Saturday, January 13, 2007

FILM: Notes on a Scandal

Notes on a Scandal was a twisted movie, albeit an engrossing one (engrossing in the way that watching a train wreck is engrossing). Judi Dench portrays Barbara, an old battle-axe teacher in an English middle school who befriends Sheba, the new art teacher, played by the suddenly-ubiquitous Cate Blanchett. Sheba senses something missing in her life and keeps trying to figure out how to fill it, while Barbara is a confidante to many but shares her own dark secrets only with her diary. The twisted tale is something like Dangerous Liaisons as it might have been written by Radclyffe Hall. To say more would be to spoil the plot, but suffice it to say you shouldn't see this film if you're looking for a feel-good comedy. The characters were excellently portrayed, and the story unfolds with precision to its end. It was fascinating to see life as one person would like to see it, parsing words and events to fit her view, and ultimately confronting a reality that won't fit. Director Richard Eyre deftly weaves subjective and objective viewpoints, such that the subjective seems objective, until dramatically shown otherwise. But I have to say that I was a bit disturbed at the end of the film, recognizing that I'd been manipulated into feeling more sympathy for a child molester than for a manipulative closet-case who preys on adults. And what is it lately with emotionally warped homosexual teachers in English middle schools? We didn't see the recent film The History Boys, but I read some blog discussions of it, and one person commented that if he were just starting to come out, and hadn't had any positive images of what a life for a gay man could be like, and saw that film, he might have gone home and slit his wrists. Young impressionable lesbians might be similarly cautioned against Notes on a Scandal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I fell asleep at the end. What happened?