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December 22, 2006

Notes On a Scandal

Notes on a Scandal Two of cinema's finest actresses, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, play distinctly unlikable characters in screenwriter Patrick Marber's ("Closer") adaptation of Zoe Haller's 2003 novel, directed by Richard Eyre ("Stage Beauty"). Blanchett plays Sheba Hart, a British high school art teacher at St George's Academy, who engages in an illicit affair with one of her male teenage students. Sheba's new friend at the school, long time teacher Barbara Covett (Dench), witnesses the obscene act and leverages her knowledge over Sheba to prevent the indiscretion from occurring again and to lay the groundwork for a hoped-for lesbian affair. Barbara, a lonely spinster with a history of stalking at least one co-worker, sets her sights on Sheba's family, which consists of Sheb's more mature husband (Bill Nighy), a teenaged son with Down Syndrome and a romantically obsessed teen daughter. Without a clear protagonist, "Notes On a Scandal" collapses under the weight of its significant subject matter. Nevertheless, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench rise above the ill- prepared source material with their bold and passionate performances.   
Rated PG-13. 95 mins. (B-) (Three Stars)

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