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Photo Credit :: Giles Keyte
Arts & Entertainment
Notes on a Scandal
By Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
February 2, 2007 
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Scoot over, Lana. Bette Davis, better check the rearview: you’ve got someone on your tail. And speaking of— “Paging Miss Crawford. Joan Crawford on the set.” And while we’re at it, might as well post the notices for the midnight screenings, circa 2015: TONIGHT ONLY, at MIDNIGHT: NOTES ON A SCANDAL.

What a guilty pleasure. What a scene-chewing twosome, in the tradition of Jacqueline Bisset and Candice Bergen in Rich and Famous (itself a remake of Old Acquaintances with Miriam Hopkins and Bette Davis). What a welcome melodrama, not seen since the days of The Killing of Sister George and The Children’s Hour. Already, there are lines of dialogue just begging to be tossed back to the screen, la Rocky Horror and Showgirls (itself The Greatest Movie Ever Made).

Briskly paced at just over ninety minutes, Notes on a Scandal moves like a train hellbent on its calamitous destination and the narrative never flags. Philip Glass’s music is as pitch perfect as the lines in Patrick Marber’s screenplay—and the result is the sort of film that used to haunt entire afternoons spent playing hooky from school. Movies like Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte and Bette and Joan in Baby Jane and Barbara Stanwyck in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. Now it’s Dame Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett going at it—with escalating tension. This is Fatal Attraction for a new generation—with a cat instead of a pet rabbit, and instead of adultery, the transgression of teacher/student love. With a nubile Andrew Simpson playing the libidinous student who stalks his art teacher, it’s the sort of film that could almost make you yearn for a life at the front of a classroom. But then there’s Dench in an advanced state of psychosis—and when she can’t always get what she wants—well, then “hell hath no fury…” More credible than female mud wrestling, Notes on a Scandal is delicious dirt.