"More Wages of Sin, Lacking Redemption"
What You Need To Know:
NOTES ON A SCANDAL intentionally leaves the audience wondering if a sequel would just show another round of emotional destruction. Like in some serial killer movie you are introduced to the next victim. MOVIEGUIDE® cannot recommend NOTES ON A SCANDAL because it is heavily peppered with “f” words, explicit about an affair between a teacher and her student, and lacks a redemptive resolution.
(RoRo, B, C, LL, V, SSS, N, A, D, MM) Strong Romantic worldview with people pursuing happiness through personal pleasures and relationships, biblical worldview element in that adultery is clearly called wrong behavior even by those engaged in it, plus a Christmas carol is sung in one scene; 15 obscenities, 11 being the “f” word, and one profanity; children at school get in fight; irate parent attacks a teacher; woman slaps another woman; repeated scenes of an affair between a teacher and student, none showing full nudity but one leaving nothing to the imagination, and male teacher seeks friendly advice about how he might have an adulterous affair he desires; upper male nudity, woman shown in underwear, older woman shown in tub (nothing but shoulders and knees); several instances of alcohol consumption; smoking by both adults and children (in front of adults, without rebuke); and, rampant dishonesty and efforts to manipulate others through emotional blackmail.
NOTES ON A SCANDAL is a tense story of sin, dishonesty and manipulation that unfolds layer after layer like a mystery. It features outstanding performances by Dame Judi Dench as Barbara Covett, a lonely elderly high school history teacher, and by Cate Blanchett as Sheba Hart, a first-year art teacher at the same state-run school in London.
The movie is presented from Barbara’s perspective as she enters her thoughts of each day’s events in her diary. Barbara is the kind of person who wants a close friend but who tends to be manipulative. Sheba is the mother of a troubled teenage daughter and a son with Down’s syndrome who, after 12 years of providing personal care, is excited about getting out in the world to work. Unfortunately, she finds that teaching in a modern school is more about maintaining the peace than it is about imparting knowledge. She is attracted to Barbara because Barbara, the self-labeled “old battle ax” has a way of gaining the students’ respect.
Barbara, desperate for a good friend, is delighted to play the role of mentor until she discovers that Sheba has been drawn into a scandalous affair with a 15-year-old student (Andrew Simpson). Rather than turning Sheba in, Barbara uses her knowledge almost like blackmail to expect more and more attention from Sheba.
While all parties involved know that what’s happening is wrong, the affair continues until Sheba refuses to go with Barbara to get her beloved cat that had to be put to sleep. She chooses instead to go see her son in a play. The fuse is lit and some of the wages of sin become apparent. Regrettably, the only redeeming moments in the movie include a chorus class singing a Christmas carol, and the fact that adultery is still considered scandalous by some characters in the movie.
Released December 27th the filmmakers may be hoping for Oscar nominations for the actresses. One should hope the movie will not get nominated for best score because the music attempted to heighten the tension like John Williams did in JAWS. Granted she does not play a sweet character but the here-comes-the-shark-music sounds inappropriate every time Barbara shows up at someone’s door.
In the Bible King David got caught having an affair but that story became one of the most redemptive in history. NOTES ON A SCANDAL intentionally leaves the audience wondering if a sequel would just show another round of emotional destruction. Like in some serial killer movie you are introduced to the next victim.
Despite the excellent performances, MOVIEGUIDE® cannot recommend NOTES ON A SCANDAL because it is heavily peppered with “f” words, explicit about an affair between a teacher and her student, and lacks in any redemptive resolution.