Opening 22 Feb 2007
Writing credits: Patrick Marber, Zoe Heller
Principal actors: Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Tom Georgeson, Michael Maloney, Joanna Scanlan
Directed by Richard Eyre, this psychological drama stars Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Bill Nighy and the young Andrew Simpson. The excellent screenplay (adapted from a novel by Zoë Heller) is by Patrick Marber, with music by Philip Glass.
Barbara Covett (Dench), spinster and teacher, has resigned herself to a narrow and lonely life of frustration and little reason for joy. That is until the beautiful Sheba Hart (Blanchett) joins the school as the new arts teacher. Barbara is at first distant and prejudicial, till a fight between two students brings the two women together and a bond is formed. Gradually their friendship grows; but while in Sheba's mind that is all it is, for Barbara it becomes a fanciful obsession, reflected in her meticulously kept diary.
When the older woman discovers that her beautiful friend is having an affair with a 15-year-old student, she is outraged and feels betrayed. She soon realizes, however, that the secret the two women now share can be used to bind Sheba more closely to her. Her condition not to tell is that Sheba end the affair immediately, which she promises to do. The reality, however, is quite different, and when Barbara discovers that Sheba has deceived her, she begins to subtly move the pieces that will bring about her friend's
Notes on a Scandal is blessed with perfect casting, excellence performances, and a great script. What more can one say? It masterfully touches on social taboos, painting them in every shade of grey, rather than black and white. It was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Actress (Dench), Best Supporting Actress (Blanchett), Best Original Score (Glass), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Marber). (Osanna Vaughn)