Lowdown: All the lonely people, where do they all come from?
One of the things Aussie critics often say about Cate Blanchett is that although she is undeniably a good actress, there has been no movie of hers that has been truly memorable. Not even her role as Elizabeth makes you think of her the way one would think of, say, Harrison Ford and Indiana Jones. Notes on a Scandal sort of goes to prove this theme: Blanchett throws an excellent performance, but the result is nothing you wouldn't forget about shortly after the DVD has been returned to the rental store.
Judi Dench, who also throws an excellent performance, is a teacher at a public school in a rather poor area of London that has seen it all. Mostly, she has seen principles coming in with all sorts of sophisticated yet useless ideas on how to improve their school; coming and going. She's cynical about it all. One day, a new, young, good looking yet rather naive teacher joins the school ranks (Blanchett). Her looks means everyone is interested in her, especially the male teachers, but it's Dench that actually gets close to her as she saves her from an embarrassing situation with her students.
The two become close and Dench learns Blanchett is married to a significantly older guy (Bill Nighy) and mothers two, including a Down Syndrome child. Life is not easy on Blanchett, who seeks refuge with Dench. Then Dench learns that Blachett is actually having an affair with one of her child students. Dench chooses to cooperate with Blanchett, but she has her price.
Notes on a Scandal is essentially a story about the loneliness of modern society, where people are having a hard time forming proper relationships with one another. On one hand it portrays the hardship of forming proper relationships while on the other it shows the cynical way in which society treats those that open themselves up in search of fellowship. It all works nicely and the performances are great, but soon enough Notes on a Scandal turns into a cheap thriller that is not so thrilling on weirdos as we the audience start feeling more like were into voyeurism than we're watching a proper film. At the end it feels more like popular junk than thought provoking cinema.
Best scene: The exposed Blanchett, tormented as hell, goes out to the street and into the arms of the press photographers that wait for her to fall in their trap. The photographers are a metaphor for society and Blanchett is the lonely person seeking contact, and with her performance it works very well.
Overall: Nice but proves the point about Blanchett's inability to come up with goods that fit her quality. 3 out of 5 stars.