Notes on a Scandal
Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”
Don't you hate that sinking feeling during a movie when you realize you're not supposed to know a key plot element that was casually given away by the press or the trailer? This film would play a lot better as a quiet little drama that gradually pulls the rug out from beneath you as sinister undertones are revealed, but for many audiences who will see it because of the Oscars attention or the book, it seems instead to take forever getting to an inevitable conflict. The emphasis on plot over character is furthered by Philip Glass's typical overwrought score, in which such mundane acts as a knock at the front door send his orchestra into shrieking hysterics, as if This! Is The Most Intense! Movie! of All Time!
Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett have more in common than spelling their names weirdly: They're superb actresses who can't make a bad movie, but who can waste their talent in a mediocre one. Dench has several disquieting monologues and Blanchett is a lightning rod for audience sympathy, but the movie doesn't know what kind of film it wants to be and pulls away from them. This could have been an icy little character-based thriller, but itstead it's a portentious Best Picture wannabe with a score that huffs and puffs and wants to blow your house down. It's a disappointment.