The Bottom Line
- Outstanding performances by Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett
- Story that is absorbing almost from start to finish
- Interesting issues are raised by how desperate loneliness and obsessive desire lead to manipulation
- The key confrontation scene between film's two main characters feels forced
- Some viewers will object to the movie on grounds that it is politically incorrect
- Film has unlikable main characters and presents a dark view of human nature (could be a pro)
- DVD containing drama Notes on a Scandal (2006) starring Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett
- Dench received Oscar nomination for Best Actress and Blanchett for Best Supporting Actress
- Film got Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score
- Movie is based on novel by Zoë Heller
- DVD provides feature-length audio commentary by director Richard Eyre
- DVD contains featurettes with a total run time of approximately 33 minutes
- MPAA rating: R for language and some aberrant sexual content
- Feature film run time: 1 hour 32 minutes
- DVD release date: April 17, 2007
Guide Review - Notes on a Scandal DVD Review
Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett are two of the best actresses working in movies today, and they are in top form in the lurid psychodrama Notes on a Scandal. The film tells the intertwined tales of two very different women struggling to deal with the fact that they find themselves living lives where their emotional needs are not being met. We are repulsed by some of the choices they make, but the storytelling and acting are so good that we see their humanity and pity them.
Barbara (Dench) is a lonely, older woman who has taught for years at a London school. When the much younger Sheba (Blanchett) joins the faculty, Barbara goes out of her way to befriend the new teacher. However, Sheba feels trapped by her marriage and kids, and she embarks upon a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old male student because it is liberating in a transgressive way. But when Barbara learns of the affair, she emotionally blackmails the younger teacher into spending time with her, thus partially fulfilling the older woman's desperate need for a companion.
The Notes on a Scandal DVD has 33 minutes of short featurettes, the best of which is "The Story of Two Obsessions." This gives us the opportunity to see and hear from novelist Zoë Heller, screenwriter Patrick Marber, director Ricard Eyre, the two lead actresses, actor Bill Nighy (portrays Sheba's husband), and actor Andrew Simpson (plays Sheba's schoolboy lover). The remaining featurettes are clip-heavy and repetitive.
The DVD also provides an informative audio commentary by director Richard Eyre, who is perhaps best known for his stint as the director of Britain's National Theatre. Eyre covers nearly everything you would want to know about making the film from adapting the novel to the locations to working with the actors.