this is a genre film — a psychopathological thriller a la patricia highsmith and thomas harris — that, like the best of its kind, comments on the deeper issues of misdirected love and pathologically unmet need (or: what do you do when the things you crave are forbidden?). notes on a scandal is brilliantly written/directed and brilliantly acted by all involved, though i would like to emphasize the amazing performances of cate blanchett and judy dench, who work together beautifully.
barbara (dench) is a no-nonsense high school history teacher who can break up a fight by saying ‘enough’ and get kids to fess up in three minutes flat. she’s also a lesbian so transparently repressed that everyone knows it except herself. sheba (blanchett) is a new, clumsy, and breezily beautiful art teacher who’s decided she needs a break from her quirky but demanding family of four. she’s married to an older, much less attractive than she (not difficult, since she’s glorious) guy (bill nighy), and her progeny are a grumpy teenage daughter and a 12-year-old boy with down syndrome. when sheba shows up in barbara’s school, it takes barbara exactly one second to decide that she’s going to become her ‘best friend.’ Continue reading notes on a scandal