Notes on a Scandal

User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 99 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 81 out of 99
  2. Negative: 5 out of 99

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User Reviews

  1. ChristopherW.
    Apr 23, 2007
    10
    One of the very finest films of 2006. Dench and Blanchett give flawless and unforgettable performances, particularly Dench. If the immortal Helen Mirren hadn't been in the running, Dench would most certainly have taken home a second Oscar. This film cuts deep, and its themes of abject isolation and loneliness are handled with a deftness and subtlety that few other films in this genre One of the very finest films of 2006. Dench and Blanchett give flawless and unforgettable performances, particularly Dench. If the immortal Helen Mirren hadn't been in the running, Dench would most certainly have taken home a second Oscar. This film cuts deep, and its themes of abject isolation and loneliness are handled with a deftness and subtlety that few other films in this genre have matched. Both Blanchett's and Dench's characters are morally very questionable, but these two actresses create portraits that evoke empathy and compassion nonetheless. Brilliant filmmaking! Expand
  2. Daddy1973
    Jan 1, 2007
    9
    The movie seems to be entertaining, but it's not. Instead of failing it, i'll give a 9 because of the perfomances (Judi, Cate) but specially BILL NIGHY. He's splendid as the suffering husband of Cate Blanchett. I really liked that perfomance!
  3. BilB.
    Jan 7, 2007
    8
    Judi is flawless. The story flows nicely for those who can think and imagine, others may think it drags. Subtle innuendos, dispair, loneliness, and longing are ever present and Judi does a fantastic job putting a true human face to feelings and things many may not know or have never experienced and a powerful reminder for those who know them all to well.
  4. RitB
    Feb 5, 2007
    10
    Loved this movie. Well structured to keep the various story elements together, the Dench character's narrative adds a sharpness with traces of dark humor. Dench manages to make her character pathetic and scary at the same time. Blanchett never looked better or acted better. Terrific.
  5. RoxannM.
    Feb 6, 2007
    10
    The New York Daily News, said it best except I would give it 10. "As the relationship between the two British schoolteachers begins (quietly), builds (deceptively) and dissolves (spectacularly), Dench and Blanchett give a master class in acting. Watching them go at each other is the match of the year. " I've watched hundreds of films and I don't EVER recall this kind of The New York Daily News, said it best except I would give it 10. "As the relationship between the two British schoolteachers begins (quietly), builds (deceptively) and dissolves (spectacularly), Dench and Blanchett give a master class in acting. Watching them go at each other is the match of the year. " I've watched hundreds of films and I don't EVER recall this kind of electrifying, witty, poisonous dialogue. Ahh the choices we humans make that lead us down such treacherous paths towards self -destruction. This film was like watching a car crash in slow motion--you're sure it's going to end badly but you can't take your eyes of the screen. Judi Dench's deceptive " Fatal Attraction" performance is mesmerizing as she weaves a gigantic spider web and waits for her prey. The beautiful and equally delicious Blanchett gives a hypnotic performance. In Hollywood "Fatal Attractions" (this film is so much more than that) are typically acted out in such typical male misogynist ways i.e., the beautiful erotic but deadly female. That portrayal so overdone and snooooooooooze boring, This movie was fresh, and felt like something you would see in the theater but very much made for the screen. It's wonderful to watch rich emotionally complex female characters, ya know like in REAL life. I was not that suprised to discover the director was from another favorite film on my list, (Closer). I can't wait to rent the DVD and watch it again. Expand
  6. SaraS.
    Apr 15, 2007
    9
    I believed every moment of it.
  7. Cynthia
    Jan 1, 2007
    7
    I liked it. The only problem I have is that I just can't stand Cate Blanchett. She's everywhere! But, well, the movie isn't bad though.
  8. Enrique
    Jan 12, 2007
    9
    Everything is close to pefection in this disturbing thriller. Blanchett and Dench are nothing less than wonderful!
  9. KenJ.
    Jan 19, 2007
    9
    Judi Densch and Kate Blanchett are brilliant in a suspensful thriller. Not to be missed
  10. TomL.
    Jan 20, 2007
    9
    Dame Judi and Cate are fantastic. The movie is wicked down to its core and for once a guilty pleasure is well made and written. I can only find one part of the ending which is where critics seem to strike at the throat where I was found it to soap-y, but the very last scene was excellent. And the movie's score didn't fit too well. It was more intruiging than intense as the score Dame Judi and Cate are fantastic. The movie is wicked down to its core and for once a guilty pleasure is well made and written. I can only find one part of the ending which is where critics seem to strike at the throat where I was found it to soap-y, but the very last scene was excellent. And the movie's score didn't fit too well. It was more intruiging than intense as the score woud have suggested however certain scenes were intense. It's a domestic thriller of the highest echelon, and I was more entertained by Dame Judi than Helen Mirren, and Cate might have been better than Hudson but she was no Rinko Kikuchi (Babel). I' m just glad risky and brilliant can fall into the same category for a change. Expand
  11. TonyB.
    Feb 10, 2007
    8
    No pretentious cinematography, no in-your-face special effects, no oh so clever editing tricks and not one mumbled line...what we have here is simply enough an interesting story, briliantly acted and directed...one of the best films of 2006...an adult film, in the best sense of that term.
  12. MarkB.
    Feb 16, 2007
    8
    Since Closer scribe Patrick Marber is typically so gleefully misanthropic about people in general and relationships in particular that he can make Neil LaBute look like Frank Capra in comparison, it's surprising that in Notes on a Scandal, adapted from Zoe Heller's novel, Marber actually manages to create two completely guileless, innocent on-screen characters! (Don't get Since Closer scribe Patrick Marber is typically so gleefully misanthropic about people in general and relationships in particular that he can make Neil LaBute look like Frank Capra in comparison, it's surprising that in Notes on a Scandal, adapted from Zoe Heller's novel, Marber actually manages to create two completely guileless, innocent on-screen characters! (Don't get too excited, though: they're Cate Blanchett's Down's-syndrome afflicted son and Judi Dench's cat.) The key to enjoying Notes, a scalpel-sharp spider-and-the-fly tale about a veteran schoolteacher who emotionally manipulates and blackmails a colleague who's carrying on a sexual affair with an underage student, is to feel as pitiless toward the characters in this movie as Marber clearly does. In the case of spinster schoolmarm Barbara Covett (Dench) this is a milk run: she's been compared to Glenn Close's iconic Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction in her relentless, psychotic pursuit to quench her social and sexual needs, but while it's possible to feel genuine pity for the pathetically lonely Alex (and if you watch Fatal Attraction outside of its original 1987 context, which equated her with the AIDS virus, you really should), Barbara on the other hand is so baldly contemptuous and utterly nasty about the person she selfishly desires and professes to love that sympathy for her is totally out of the question. Don't feel too sorry for Blanchett's Sheba Hart either, though; she's attractive and appealing in a low-rent-but-trying-hard kind of way (Taxi's Louie DePalma would've described her as looking like a beautician) but in terms of her personal life and marriage tends to make mistakes in judgment so staggering that as 2006 movie characters go, only the Moroccan kids in Babel who decided not to use inanimate objects for target practice rival her in stupidity. (And don't miss the fleetingly-mentioned but telling detail of how Sheba and her sad-sack husband got together in the first place.) Thanks in no small part to Dench's and Blanchett's terrific lead performances, equally strong support by Bill Nighy, Andrew Simpson and Juno Temple, flawlessly propulsive pacing by director Richard Eyre and an ingenious Philip Glass music score that not only heightens the escalating melodrama but at times satirically comments on it, watching Notes on a Scandal is like devouring a 1980s Aaron Spelling-produced nighttime serial with all the tastiness intact but none of the guilt. However, Reelviews critic/originator James Bernardelli correctly called it on its disappointing climax which has a character discovering something that another character would be too smart to allow to happen; the old dramatic adage that states that if you've got a gun on the wall in Act One, you'd better fire it in Act Three is rendered somewhat ineffective here because the gun essentially FALLS OFF the wall. The final couple of minutes are a bit too predictable to be really satisfying, but even here Marber's trademark stiletto dialogue, delivered by real pros, triumphs over all...virtually every line in Notes on a Scandal recalls Golden Age of Hollywood master Joseph L. Manckiewicz (All About Eve, A Letter to Three Wives) at his finest, if Manckiewicz were by nature a major-league sadist and if he'd never had that pesky Hays Code to deal with. Expand
  13. Fantasy
    Feb 6, 2007
    9
    Brilliant film that is very well acted and grabs the viewers attention and maintains it throughout the movie.
  14. KathyS.
    Mar 7, 2007
    9
    Judi Dench's performance is riveting. Some folks who haven't seen the movie have stated that they were put off by the subject matter involving an "indiscretion" between a teacher and a student, but that isn't really the main focus of the movie. It's really more about the relationship between the two women. Both actresses deliver first-rate performances. An added plus: Judi Dench's performance is riveting. Some folks who haven't seen the movie have stated that they were put off by the subject matter involving an "indiscretion" between a teacher and a student, but that isn't really the main focus of the movie. It's really more about the relationship between the two women. Both actresses deliver first-rate performances. An added plus: Considering the egos of most of today's actresses with their stretched and plasticized faces, it is so refreshing to see two women who will truly give themselves over to the characters they play. Expand
  15. MelissaW.
    Aug 1, 2007
    9
    Brilliant acting. I didn't know what I was in store for -- and it turned out to be better than I thought. Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett manage to make such incredibly despicable characters - real and nuanced.
  16. RupertS.
    Dec 26, 2006
    10
    What are you doing in your chairs, in your sofa watching boring TV shows? Go to the cinema and enjoy the power of movies with "Notes on a scandal", and feel the true DEVIL of the year, Judi Dench, who gives this year's best perfomance. Cate Blanchett is... wow, you know she's a phenomenal actress... The music and the script are great too. I'm going to watch it again in January!!!
  17. CoriH.
    Jan 13, 2007
    9
    Wickedly entertaining! A must see! Judi Dench as creepy and haunting as she is in this movie, you can't help but feel pity for her lonely pathetic soul. Kate Blanchett is remarkable. She takes you inside a world that is forbidden in the eyes of society, but yet you understand her deep yearning to feel young and needed again. Bring on the Oscars.
  18. HansE.
    Jan 15, 2007
    8
    An intense drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Disguised as a movie about sex between a teacher and her underage student, the real story is between Dench and Blanchette. Dench's view of the world is totally creepy, and she perfoms brilliantly (as usual). Bill Nighy also stands out as the betrayed husband. Full of emotion, this is great acting, but not quite a great An intense drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Disguised as a movie about sex between a teacher and her underage student, the real story is between Dench and Blanchette. Dench's view of the world is totally creepy, and she perfoms brilliantly (as usual). Bill Nighy also stands out as the betrayed husband. Full of emotion, this is great acting, but not quite a great movie. Not for the faint of heart. Expand
  19. JeralynB.
    Jan 15, 2007
    10
    Even when their characters are caught in a delightful web of struggle & strife, Dench & Blanchett give EXCELLENT performances!
  20. PaulK.
    Jan 5, 2007
    9
    Brilliantly acted...both Dench and Blanchett are spot on. Dench's intensity reminded me of Kathy Bates in Misery, another powerful "psycho" performance. See this at all costs.
  21. RamonaC.
    Jan 6, 2007
    10
    Outstanding performance by Judi Dench. Will hold your attention til the last drop. A real movie lovers dream. Kate Blanchett does an excellent job holding her own with Ms. Dench. Haunting and very entertaining.
  22. JeffH.
    Feb 22, 2007
    9
    Great acting by 2 of the best actresses working today. Script walks the line between suspense and exhibitionism based on subject matter.
  23. IsabelleR.
    Dec 26, 2006
    10
    The movie ends and your mouth says... WOW... fantastic judi and cate. both are so explosive. I agree with the critics.
  24. Jean
    Dec 28, 2006
    8
    Well, it was entertaining but.. I don't know, it's not a 10, OK? Judi is a true b*tch (in her acting anyway).
  25. RussellB.
    Jan 13, 2007
    9
    Enjoyed the movie, and was very impressed with Judi's performance. Newcomer Andrew Simpson was a delight as well. Had very funny parts in the begining, and I think hearing Judi cursing made it worth the cost of the movie.
  26. ScottS.
    Jan 18, 2007
    10
    The best film of 2006, and one of the best portraits of loneliness in over a decade. Blanchett and (especially) Dench are extraordinary. Indeed, If Oscar actually rewarded the best perfomances of the year, which he unfortunately does not, they would leave the Kodak Theater with matching statuettes instead of the ghastly overrated Mirren and Hudson.
  27. efsun
    Jan 19, 2007
    7
    The performances by Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench were wonderful. However, the story was not so engaging.
  28. SteveA.
    Jan 27, 2007
    7
    This was a decent movie, but very bleak and sinister. I felt sorry for both the main leads, and I can see the reasoning behind their actions and motives. However, towards the end of the movie, both characters had lost their humanity and were becoming the same monster. I went from caring a lot about them to not caring at all. The only other thing that bothered me was that the relationship This was a decent movie, but very bleak and sinister. I felt sorry for both the main leads, and I can see the reasoning behind their actions and motives. However, towards the end of the movie, both characters had lost their humanity and were becoming the same monster. I went from caring a lot about them to not caring at all. The only other thing that bothered me was that the relationship between the young teacher and boy was bittersweet, even beautiful at times. (Unfortunately, I'm so used to seeing American cinema trivialize and vilify disturbing subject matter.) Expand
  29. RobertI.
    Jan 27, 2007
    7
    The character Barbara Covett (if the name fits, wear it), comes to electrified life in the arched eyebrows of Judi Dench, in a role that crackles with rhapsodic bitterness. However, we never catch the frenzy or the angst that lies behind Blanchett's addictive dalliance with a child.
  30. Nadie
    Feb 24, 2007
    10
    Extraordinary perfomance by the best living actress, Judi Dench. You don't know if you love her or hate her, you only know she is a bitter and lonely school teacher looking for love in all the wrong places. She gave acting classes to Helen Mirren many year ago, well I don't know what she's waiting to do it again.
  31. DavidT.
    Apr 26, 2007
    7
    A VERYCreepy tale that even left me feeling violated in some strange way. Not a good date movie...Hahaha!!! Judith Dench was Amazing!
  32. MarkK.
    Jul 14, 2007
    8
    While the plot is predictable, the script is tight and moves quickly. Best of all are Dench and Blanchett -- without their excellent acting, "Notes" would have not have been so effective.
  33. Feb 1, 2013
    9
    For starters, Cate and Judi are about as flawless as actors could be. So thrilling to see what would happen next. The movie doesn't waste time and just gets to all the awkward freaky moments. The score helped move the movie along seamlessly.
  34. Apr 20, 2012
    9
    Flawless and tense; 'Notes on a Scandal' is a perfect blend of drama and thriller with immense performances from both Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett.
  35. Jul 31, 2014
    8
    This is a great psychological thriller, it doesn't try hard. Powerhouse performances from Dame Dench and Blanchett, and nice work from the supporting cast. You don't what's going to happen next, that's what makes this film great
  36. Jan 22, 2015
    7
    A somewhat under appreciated film. It's a terrific thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat through the entire course of the film. The tension that builds up is tremendous. It's a no rubbish film. Not everything works in the movie but what unquestionably does is the acting. Both lead performances are stellar. Cate Blanchett is very engaging, Judi Dench is bloody magnificent.
Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 35
  2. Negative: 1 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    A wicked delight. Adapted by playwright Patrick Marber from Zoe Heller's acclaimed novel, it's at once a comedy of cluelessness and class, a melodrama of two women in the grips of wildly inappropriate obsessions, and a "Fatal Attraction"-style thriller.
  2. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    63
    If the resultant wreckage is a little underwhelming, and the film's coda useless and trite, the getting there is pretty absorbing.
  3. Eyre does a fine job overseeing performances by a terrific cast that rings true until female hysteria takes over the final act. But in tone and theme, the film has all the hallmarks of playwright-screenwriter Marber's stark, uncompromising misanthropy, if not misogyny.