Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Cate Blanchett Essentials, #2 / 5

Notes on a Scandal (2006) Richard Eyre

IMDB: 7.5 - RT: 87% / 81%

The reason
„I watched the making of a long time ago and thought it sounded extremely intriguing. Okay, maybe I have a weakness for films like this - they are just so interesting, psychologically - but I've actually heard that this one is supposed to be very good.“

The story
Three people's lives get intertwined when a new art teacher arrives at a typical small town high school somewhere in England. Sheba (Cate) is the exact opposite of veteran teacher Barbara (Judi Dench), who is longing for the good old times. Everyone loves Sheba, also and especially, Barbara. And Steven, a 15-year old student of Sheba's, whom she eventually starts an affair with. When Barbara finds out, she thinks of a way to get something out of this for herself.

The message/ meaning
Everybody has their dirty little secret.

The character
Sheba Hart is the perfect woman seen from the outside; angel-like looks, voice and behaviour - you just must love her. However, it's not all so perfect, so when Barbara is invited for dinner she is introduced to Sheba's husband who was her former tutor and looks like her dad - and then there's the son with Down's syndrome. So, when Sheba surrenders to the seduction, she does have reason for it:

„This is going to sound sick, but something in me felt... entitled. You know, I've been good all my adult life. I've been a decent wife, a dutiful mother coping with Ben. This voice inside me kept saying "why shouldn't you be bad, why shouldn't you transgress? I mean, you've earned the right.“

Sheba is just one of those nice beings you like being around with, and whose problems you'll get to know soon enough. 

The performance
Cate Blanchett has the talent and the looks to play everything, everyone, be it a male rock idol, a mystic elf, a strong and powerful queen - or a lonely small town angel. No role I've seen her in has been similar to the other, and the same goes for her playing Sheba Hart. To see her shine in every single scene, of which there are many, is simply a pleasure. You fall in love with Sheba, like everyone else in the story does, and then at some point actually become her, sensing the loneliness and seduction and giving in to it. Of course you're also Barbara at the same time, but while you disgust her, you always understand Sheba. 

The most impressive scene
Many people point out the revelation scene (the one in which Sheba finds out about Barbara) as the best one in the film, but my most impressive scene was the first sex scene between Sheba and Steven. To be able to do this, one must really have a lot of talent and self-contiousness. Playing something like that with a 15-year old, being over 30 yourself! And so convincingly! 

The blemish
Can't think of one. This is by far the best of the films I've seen for these series. Maybe this; it's not going to be a favourite. It's a good, entertaining and thoughtful movie that I enjoyed thoroughly, but it's not something I will rant about for days.

Does the film deserve to be called one of the Cate Blanchett Essentials?
More than any of the other three films I've seen until now.


1 - Elizabeth, 2 - Notes on a Scandal, 3 - Coffee & Cigarettes, 4 - The Gift, 5 - Robin Hood


  1. Ahhh she's SO GOOD in this movie, isn't she? Really glad you like the performance as much as I do. I agree, the first sex scene and the revelation scene are both incredible. And I too cannot find a fault or blemish in this.

    Nice write up!

    1. Thanks, Alex.
      The brilliance of Cate's performance in this one really can't be discussed.

  2. This movie along with Blanchetts performance in it is amazing


Let the discussion begin!