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Notes on a Scandal (2006)



Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 170
Fresh: 148 | Rotten: 22

In this sharp psychological thriller, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett give fierce, memorable performances as two schoolteachers locked in a battle of wits.


Average Rating: 7.8/10
Critic Reviews: 43
Fresh: 37 | Rotten: 6

In this sharp psychological thriller, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett give fierce, memorable performances as two schoolteachers locked in a battle of wits.



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Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 77,067

My Rating

Movie Info

Two women, caught up in a drama of need and betrayal, are at the heart of the psychological thriller "Notes on a Scandal." The twists and turns of the story are noted in the acerbic diary of Barbara Covett, a domineering and solitary teacher who rules with an iron fist over her classroom at a decaying state-run secondary school in London. Save for her cat, Portia, Barbara lives alone, without friends or confidantes--but her world changes when she meets the school's new art teacher, Sheba Hart.



Patrick Marber

Apr 17, 2007


Fox Searchlight Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (170) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (148) | Rotten (22) | DVD (24)

Blanchett has also recently appeared in The Good German and Babel, but this represents far and away her best work.

February 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Richard Eyre's direction merely plays up the melodramatic aspects of Zoë Heller's novel, screenwriter Patrick Marber's acidic dialogue occasionally slips into the overwritten, and the rest of the cast gamely chews table scraps.

February 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bill Nighy is stunning in the small but pivotal role of Sheba's devastated husband, and Dench locates the desperate pathos in Barbara's malevolence.

January 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This compact, fierce and frightening domestic thriller is the most violent film in many a day. The rage is in the angry words, the deepest thoughts of its 'heroine,' and the fear about what might come from those words is palpable.

January 12, 2007 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While Glenn Close played her Fatal Attraction character's 'I will not be ignored' psycho-obsession out front and out loud, Dench does it as subtext, making it all the more insidious, frightening ... and fascinating.

January 11, 2007 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In England, it seems, actresses have nothing to fear from age. They can simply wait for writers to create fresh work for them.

January 8, 2007
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Lurid melodrama lifted by corrosive writing and a frightening performance from the Dame.

November 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine Australasia
Empire Magazine Australasia

Stages the story with a tastefulness both ponderous and dishonest

August 28, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

Smart and brash, it's a picture Bette Davis and Joan Crawford would have killed (preferably each other) to be in.

May 15, 2009 Full Review Source: I.E. Weekly
I.E. Weekly

British cinema fans shouldn't miss this one.

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Eyre paces it with an eye for the telling detail, and Blanchett and Dench give harrowing, fearless performances.

August 7, 2008 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

Notes on a Scandal is melodrama at its best -- a nasty, wickedly good, over-the-top story with school teachers standing in where vampires usually prowl.

February 28, 2008 Full Review Source:

born from watching too many episodes of Jerry Springer, and the filmmakers decided it would be more accepted by the Academy if the characters had British accents.

June 5, 2007 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

The characters' motives are base enough, and there's an odd combination of petty incidents having walloping consequences, but the ironies are as delicately layered and "delicious" as they could possibly be without a hint of preciosity.

April 17, 2007 Full Review Source:

Dench's performance is the greatest pleasure in a hugely enjoyable, highly literate drama.

March 28, 2007 Full Review Source: thelondonpaper

...a thoroughly trashy piece of work...

March 12, 2007 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews | Comment (1)
Reel Film Reviews

Em seus melhores momentos, é um drama relativamente eficaz. (...) Nos piores, parece uma versão de O Pentelho protagonizada por mulheres e com Judi Dench no lugar de Jim Carrey.

March 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

Un brillante duelo actoral entre Judi Dench y Cate Blanchett %u2013dos de las mejores actrices de la actualidad- que es también un sutil estudio sobre la soledad y la obsesión.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

As much as Barbara judges, however, you may find yourself in a quandary, not judging so much as taking pleasure in her vile, brilliant perfection.

February 24, 2007 Full Review Source: PopMatters

The movie's driving force is Dench, whose extraordinary performance only underscores her post as one of the world's finest living actresses.

February 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Metro Weekly (Washington, DC)
Metro Weekly (Washington, DC)

A measured and yet gloriously overblown study of desire, entitlement and the twists we experience while shuttling between the two.

February 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Reeler

Without a clear protagonist, "Notes On a Scandal" collapses under the weight of its significant subject matter. Nevertheless, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench rise above the ill- prepared source material with their passionate performances.

February 19, 2007 Full Review Source:

This is a strong drama that simmers its way to a boil by the end of the film. It falters only at the very end, in which the story falls back on a cliché.

February 19, 2007 Full Review

A borderline melodrama film that is fortunate to feature two superb enough performances to grant it high entertainment status.

February 19, 2007 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

There are brilliantly handled scenes of anger, embarrassment and humiliation, and brutal physical and emotional confrontations of great power.

February 10, 2007 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Engrossing, bewildering, searing and shattering, this is a film that reverberates on every level.

February 10, 2007 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Audience Reviews for Notes on a Scandal

I got very little out of this movie. Tired, obvious subject, played for melodrama, poorly. Philip Glass score was just too up-front.
January 19, 2008

Super Reviewer

The plot right there is most of what makes this film roll so well. NOTES ON A SCANDAL is quite easily comparable to Alfred Hitchcockâ(TM)s REAR WINDOW when analyzing the tactics used to produce such a film. The first half an hour is used to set up the characters; at the thirty-minutes mark, the plot starts with a bang and a sense of voyeurism, before taking its own unique route. Rather than expounding upon a murder mystery, writer Patrick Marber analyzes a shocking scandal, and it seems just as, if not more suspenseful than such a classic as REAR WINDOW did in 1954. The way the director makes us view the scandalous act is stunning. It would be a very easy accident to make if the film turned out as a voluptuous picture. Instead, such scenes are carefully worked outâ"music, cinematography, and allâ"so that we are rather shocked by the events that take place during the course of the film.
May 26, 2012

Super Reviewer

Notes on a Scandal is a near flawless film with stellar acting that will keep the viewer on the edge of his seat. The film has a phenomenal cast that makes this film an incredible cinematic experience. Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench are incredible in their respective roles. Notes on a Scandal is superior drama film that might divide the viewers due to its subject matter. A new art teacher at a school is suspected to having a sexual affair with a fellow student by an elderly teacher, Barbara (Judi Dench) that there's an affair going on between the new teacher, Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett). I thought that Notes on a Scandal was a terrific film, and the acting displayed on screen by Dench and Blanchett is what makes this film a unique viewing experience. Both actresses are accomplished and have incredible talent, and seeing that talent comes through is really what makes this film worth watching. Notes on a Scandal is a well made film with phenomenal acting and despite its somewhat controversial subject is a great story as well.
The film works because of the great acting that the lead actresses display on screen, and though uneven at times, Notes on a Scandal is still a solid enough thriller to enjoy with plenty of tricks up its sleeves.
August 22, 2011
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Wonderful performances all around, with an outstanding and eerie performance from Judy Dench.

This film is cleverly put together to contain a very controversial subject and yet the attention is drawn far more to the sub-topic of the relationship between Dench and Blanchett's characters.

Left me with a feeling of wanting to shake off the eerie, creepy feel.
April 15, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Barbara Covett: Children are feral. They sense your anxiety.
    – Submitted by Frances H (3 months ago)
    1. Barbara Covett: No one can violate our magnificent complicity.
    – Submitted by Raj G (2 years ago)
    1. Barbara Covett: Well, I am glad I was such an aphrodisiac.
    – Submitted by Raj G (2 years ago)
    1. Sheba Hart: You think this is a love affair? A relationship?
    – Submitted by Raj G (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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