Notes on a Scandal (film)

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Notes on a Scandal
Notes on a Scandal.jpg
Promotional movie poster
Directed by Richard Eyre
Produced by Robert Fox
Scott Rudin
Screenplay by Patrick Marber
Based on Notes on a Scandal 
by Zoë Heller
Starring Judi Dench
Cate Blanchett
Bill Nighy
Music by Philip Glass
Cinematography Chris Menges
Editing by John Bloom
Antonia Van Drimmelen
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • 25 December 2006 (2006-12-25)
Running time 91 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £15 million
Box office $49,752,391

Notes on a Scandal is a 2006 British drama/psychological thriller film, adapted from the 2003 novel of the same name by Zoë Heller. The screenplay was written by Patrick Marber and the film was directed by Richard Eyre. The soundtrack was composed by Philip Glass.

It was nominated for four Academy Awards – Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score.

Plot[edit]

Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) is a history teacher at a comprehensive school in London. A spinster nearing retirement, her comfort is her diary. When an art teacher, Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), joins the staff, Barbara discovers that Sheba is having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student, Steven Connolly (Andrew Simpson), and confronts her.

When Sheba asks her not to tell the school administration until after Christmas as she wants to be with her family, Barbara explains she has no intention of informing, providing Sheba ends the relationship immediately. Sheba does not end the affair, causing Barbara to taunt her emotionally, leading her to tell Stephen that the affair is over. Barbara's elderly cat has to be put down and when she demands that Sheba comes with her to the vet, Sheba refuses and attends her son's first recital. Still angry, Barbara takes the opportunity to reveal the secret when a male teacher calls on Barbara to tell her that he is attracted to Sheba and wants to know if she will sound out his chances with her. In response, Barbara reveals the information about the affair and waits on the results.

After the affair becomes public, Barbara and Sheba both lose their job because Barbara is accused of knowing about the affair and not notifying the authorities. Sheba is kicked out of her home by her husband and moves into Barbara's house which is exactly what Barbara wanted. Sheba is clueless to the fact that Barbara is the reason she was found out, believing the affair became known because Steven confessed it to his mother, but Sheba finds Barbara's diary and learns it was Barbara who leaked the story of the affair. When Barbara returns from a shopping trip, she is confronted by Sheba, who strikes her in anger. A row ensues; Sheba calls Barbara a "vampire". Barbara says she has done her a favour by getting her out of a hopeless marriage. The two of them continue to shout and fight with one another, and Sheba claims that Barbara never really liked her, but in fact manipulated her for her own personal needs.

Sheba runs outside with Barbara's journal to streams of reporters and photographers. She shouts at them hysterically, but becomes hemmed in, at which point Barbara rescues her. Sheba's emotions spent, she quietly tells Barbara that she had initiated the friendship with Barbara because she liked her and they could have been friends. Barbara says she needs more than a friend.

Sheba leaves Barbara, placing the journal on the table. Sheba returns to her family home. Richard and Sheba face one another silently for several moments, and then Richard allows her to enter. Sheba is sentenced to 10 months in jail. In the final scene, Barbara meets another younger woman who is reading a newspaper about the Sheba Hart affair. Barbara says she used to know Sheba, but implies they hardly knew each other. Barbara introduces herself, invites her to a concert, and the pair continue to talk.

Cast[edit]

Filming[edit]

The film was mainly shot on location in the Parliament Hill, Gospel Oak and Camden Town areas of northwest London.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Critical reaction[edit]

The film opened to generally positive reviews, receiving a Rotten Tomatoes "Certified Fresh" rating of 87%.[1] The Guardian called the film a "delectable adaptation" with "tremendous acting from Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, with many blue-chip supporting contributions and a "screenwriting masterclass from Patrick Marber".[2] The Times praised the film, saying: "Notes on a Scandal, is screenwriting at its vicious best... Richard Eyre directs the film like a chamber play. He leans on Philip Glass's ever-present and insistent music like a crutch. But his natural gift for framing scenes is terrifically assured. A potent and evil pleasure."[3]

American publications also gave the film acclaim, with the Los Angeles Times describing the film as "Sexy, aspirational and post-politically correct, Notes on a Scandal could turn out to be the Fatal Attraction of the noughties."[4] The Washington Post noted the "dark brilliance" and that it "offers what is possibly the only intelligent account of such a disaster ever constructed, with a point of view that is somewhat gimlet-eyed and offered with absolutely no sentimentality whatsoever." The reviewer also identified the film as a "study in the anthropology of British liberal-left middle-class life."[5] Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert heaped praise on the film and the acting performances "Perhaps the most impressive acting duo in any film of 2006. Dench and Blanchett are magnificent. Notes on a Scandal is whip-smart, sharp and grown up."[6]

However, the Houston Chronicle criticized the film as a melodrama, saying, "[d]ramatic overstatement saturates just about every piece of this production".[7]

Commercial[edit]

The film grossed $49,752,391 worldwide,[8] exceeding its £15 million budget.[9]

Soundtrack[edit]

The original score for the movie was composed by Philip Glass. The film features a song by Toots & The Maytals and another by Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Awards and nominations[edit]

79th Academy Awards nominees:

  • Nominated: Best Actress – Judi Dench
  • Nominated: Best Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett
  • Nominated: Best Adapted Screenplay – Patrick Marber
  • Nominated: Best Original Score – Philip Glass

BAFTA Awards

  • Nominated: Best British Film
  • Nominated: Best Actress – Judi Dench
  • Nominated: Best Adapted Screenplay – Patrick Marber

British Independent Film Awards

  • Nominated: Best British Independent Film
  • Won: Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film – Judi Dench
  • Nominated: Best Performance by a Supporting Actor or Actress in a British Independent Film – Cate Blanchett
  • Won: Best Screenplay – Patrick Marber

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

  • Nominated: Best Actress – Judi Dench
  • Nominated: Best Picture
  • Nominated: Best Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

  • Nominated: Best Actress – Judi Dench
  • Nominated: Best Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett
  • Nominated: Best Adapted Screenplay – Patrick Marber
  • Nominated: Best Original Score

Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards

  • Won: Best Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett

Evening Standard British Film Awards

  • Won: Best Actress – Judi Dench

Florida Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Won: Best Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett

Golden Globe Awards

  • Nominated: Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama – Judi Dench
  • Nominated: Best Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett
  • Nominated: Best Screenplay – Patrick Marber

London Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Nominated: Actress of the Year – Judi Dench
  • Nominated: British Actress of the Year – Judi Dench
  • Nominated: British Supporting Actor of the Year – Bill Nighy

Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Won: Best Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett

Online Film Critics Awards

  • Nominated: Best Actress – Judi Dench
  • Nominated: Best Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett
  • Nominated: Best Original Score – Phillip Glass

Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards

  • Won: Best Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • Nominated: Best Actress – Judi Dench
  • Nominated: Best Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett

Toronto Film Critics Association Awards

  • Won: Best Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Notes on a Scandal (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 28 February 2009. 
  2. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (2 February 2007). "Notes on a Scandal". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 22 August 2009. 
  3. ^ Christopher, James (1 February 2007). "Notes on a Scandal". The Times (UK). Retrieved 22 August 2009. 
  4. ^ "Notes on a Scandal (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 22 August 2009. 
  5. ^ Hunter, Stephen (27 December 2006). "'Scandal': A Lesson Not Soon Forgotten". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 August 2009. 
  6. ^ "Critics: Who Doesn't Love a Good Scandal?". Fox Searchlight. Retrieved 22 August 2009. [dead link]
  7. ^ Biancolli, Amy (5 January 2007). "Gothic thriller full of sordid trysts". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  8. ^ "NOTES ON A SCANDAL (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 7 June 2009. 
  9. ^ Gritten, David (26 January 2007). "How to make a scandalously good movie". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 22 August 2009. 

External links[edit]