as cate blanchet comments on her character as the clandestine adulteress with an underage adolescent boy: those who hide themselves so well would on-purpursedly create circumstance of exposure. that shall be the perfect reflection on the two obsessive females in the story of "notes on a scandal"....mostly critics or the audience would concentrate on judi dench's tour de farce performance as the pathologically schemeful and perilously manipulative aging closet lesbian, or the good performances from the general cast. as-a-matter-of-factly, the dialogues have more gems to chew with savored relish...sketchily, the story sets out as one fair-looking bohemian-spirited young teacher sheba(blanchet) arrives at school, it arouses the slavering eyes of two people: one bitter spinister teacher barbara(dench) and a hermone-raging lad...as barbara makes a further step to dig inside this young woman's life, she's shocked at the flopping platitude of sheba's reality: marriage to an aging bore who is old enough to her father, and one mentally crippled obese son and a crude brattish daughter, and sheba squanders her youth on labouring to maintain the surfacial peace of the family...then barbara extorts sheba's illict affair with a minor to obtain her friendship which might borders on pseudo romance of barbara's one-sided affections...eventually barbara backstabs sheba then ready to target at her next prey of secret crush.
even on the surface, blanchet's character might be a pedophile, but ironically the teenage boy is the exploitor who utilizes the teacher's frailty of emptiness as well as her neediness of affectionate courtship to enslave her sexually. he sends her foul messages about how much he wants to f**k her as long as the luscious crave strikes him....it has nothing to do with blanchet's character is a pedophile or not. it's more of a psychological guerrila of give-and-take, a food chain of prey and predator. be heedful of one scene when he lurks around her household at christmas when sheba's hesitated to quit this adultery, he sees her husband then says "is that your father?" then she replies "no, uncle."...then he gives a fake gold necklace as present (which means his love is also FAKE)....then the two kiss....it's plentifully obvious that she cheats with a young lad just as the subconscioulys compulsive revenge on her elder husband for soliciting her away in her prime youth and trapped in this abyss of obligations devoid of substantial attention. as sheba confides to barbara: "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."....
once in a while, the camera leads to the evidences of sheba's wanton adolescence anchored with wild past, such as her punk riot girl looks in the yellowed pic in her wasted art studio and also her juvenile edgy tastes of underground music that gives clues that inwardly she still lingers over her adolescence, and now a conformed female rebel and also an ingenune who seals off her youthful boisterousness. in a way, spiritually she's more like child than the frivilous 15-year-old steve who is childish but not childlike at all. the character of sheba is the central object of lust in the movie, as the ill-fate of most sex objects, she's inevitably the sympathetic exploited prey of a lecherous teenage boy as well as the frigid sexually repressed elder woman, and perhaps also her mild-mannered neglectful aging husband...so helplessly frail...as later, she puts that riot girl cosmetics on herself and stares into the mirror with a torn sense of self as confined in barbara's shell to escape the irresistible raid of press and society...then the flick heightens its conflict to the pinnacle of acerbity as sheba discovers barbara's sinister scheme in her diaries, but the tragedy has occured without any sparing mercifulness reserved for herself.
as for judi dench's barbara, one narration manifest her persona most effectively:
People like Sheba think they know what it is to be lonely. But of the drip, drip of the long-haul, no-end-in-sight solitude, they know nothing. What it's like to construct an entire weekend around a visit to the launderette. Or to be so chronically untouched that the accidental brush of a bus conductor's hand sends a jolt of longing straight to your groin. Of this, Sheba and her like have no clue.
this flick's closure is like a horrorsome sociopath thriller, barbara focuses on her next possible candidate of this abnormal pattern under the disguise of compionship from a kindredly harmless elder female, just as a pagurian parasite, she seeks her upcoming host to shelter in with held-back subdued poise, and also like a leech, she makes a sudden violent attack then sucks the essence of her host to drained desolution. horrid! horrid! horrid!