Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Notes on a Scandal

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: R

Starring:
Judi Dench as Barbara Covett
Cate Blanchett as Sheba Hart
Bill Nighy as Richard Hart
Andrew Simpson as Steven Connolly
Tom Georgeson as Ted Mawson
Michael Maloney as Sandy Pabblem
Joanna Scanlan as Sue Hodge
Shaun Parkes as Bill Rumer
Emma Kennedy as Linda
Syreeta Kumar as Gita
Philip Davis as Brian Bangs
Wendy Nottingham as Elaine Clifford
Tameka Empson as Antonia Robinson
Leon Skinner as Davis
Juno Temple as Polly Hart

Special Features:
Commentary by director Richard Eyre
Notes on a Scandal: The Story of Two Obsessions
Notes on a Scandal: Behind the Scenes
In Character with Cate Blanchett
Webisodes:
Judi and Cate: Behind the Scandal
The Screenplay
Judi Dench
Cate Blanchett
A Conversation with Cate Blanchett and Bill Nighy
Trailer

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish and French Language
Running Time: 121 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

"Academy AwardŽ winners Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett give wickedly entertaining, Oscar-nominated performances - one as a woman consumed by her colleague's guilty secret, the other, a victim to her own dark obsessions - in this sexy, stylish thriller. Dench mesmerizes as Barbara Covett, a teacher who rules over her classroom with an iron fist, yet leads a desperate, solitary life outside it. That is, until she meets radiant new art teacher Sheba Hart (Blanchett). Although at first overjoyed with her newfound kindred spirit, when Barbara discovers that Sheba is having an affair with a teenage student, her jealously and rage spiral out of control.

"Notes on a Scandal" is rated R for language and some aberrant sexual content.

Mini-Review:
I love everyone involved in the making of "Notes on a Scandal," but I wasn't crazy about the film. My main problem with it is that there's not a single likable character in the movie. Judi Dench plays a stuck-up, selfish, conniving woman. Cate Blanchett plays a selfish woman who commits sexual crime to satisfy her own desires. She's willing to destroy her career, tear apart her family, and tear apart the family of the boy she has sex with for no good reason. Even Bill Nighy, one of the few seemingly good characters in the story, has an inexplicable rant against Dench which seems to push her over the edge. Because of this it's hard to root for anyone at all in this story. When you're hoping that your two lead characters get busted, it's kind of hard to enjoy the movie.

That being said, "Notes on a Scandal" certainly features strong performances across the board. Judi Dench is one of the most evil and manipulative women to grace the big screen in a long time. The twist of her character going from narrator to antagonist is quite a turn. Cate Blanchett also rather bravely dives into her character. She's not very sympathetic and Blanchett perfectly portrays her decent into despair as her scandal unfolds.

If you're a fan of psychological dramas, Judy Dench, or Cate Blanchett, then this is a movie you'll probably find well worth checking out.

There are quite a few bonus features included on the DVD. You'll find a commentary by director Richard Eyre. This is followed by "Notes on a Scandal: The Story of Two Obsessions". It's a featurette which covers the development of the story. "Notes on a Scandal: Behind the Scenes" is another featurette that analyzes the characters and the performances. You'll also find a TV show from the Fox Channel entitled "In Character with Cate Blanchett". It's mostly a recap of film, but there is also an interview with Blanchett. I as surprised to find that there were Webisodes and they're all included here. They is Judi and Cate: Behind the Scandal, The Screenplay, Judi Dench, and Cate Blanchett. Wrapping things up is A Conversation with Cate Blanchett and Bill Nighy.

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