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"NOTES ON A SCANDAL"
(2006) (Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Mild Extreme Mild *Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None None None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Extreme Heavy Heavy Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: When she learns of her cohort's affair with an underage student, a veteran teacher manipulates the young woman for her own needs and desires.
PLOT:
Barbara Covett (JUDI DENCH) is the long-tenured history teacher at a London Academy who looks down her nose at most everyone, but confines such condescending observations to her diary. Her latest entry is about Sheba Hart (CATE BLANCHETT), the new art teacher at the school. Noting her youth and beauty, Barbara surmises that Sheba married too young to Richard (BILL NIGHY) and doesn't feel comfortable being the step-mom to his rebellious teenage daughter Polly (JUNO TEMPLE) or her younger brother Ben (MAX LEWIS), who has Down's syndrome.

For reasons she doesn't immediately disclose, Barbara decides to befriend Sheba and take her under her wing. That includes instructions on how to deal with the occasionally unruly students, initially unaware that Sheba is carrying on an illicit affair with one of her own, 15-year-old Steven Connolly (ANDREW SIMPSON). Disturbed by but also jealous of Sheba's indiscretion, Barbara tells her to call it off, and the young teacher agrees.

Yet, when Sheba disobeys the order and continues seeing Steven who won't accept her ending their affair, Barbara lets her own needs and desires get the better of her, resulting in developments that threaten the women's jobs, relationships and more.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, it doesn't seem too likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language and some aberrant sexual content.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JUDI DENCH plays the veteran schoolteacher who has a condescending attitude toward others and their faults that she observes in her diary. Yet, she has her own issues (including predatory lesbianism), smokes, and drinks.
  • CATE BLANCHETT plays the new teacher at school who ends up cheating on her older husband by having an illicit affair with her underage student. She uses strong profanity and drinks.
  • ANDREW SIMPSON plays that student, a fifteen-year-old kid who has sex and becomes obsessed with her, smokes, and uses strong profanity.
  • BILLY NIGHY plays Sheba's older husband who uses strong profanity under duress (after learning of her affair) and drinks.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 16 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are uttered. Sexually related dialogue (some of it explicit) is present, as are several sexual encounters seen to varying degrees (including movement, sounds, and implied oral sex, and all involving a female teacher having an affair with an underage male student). An older woman longs for a younger one, with some related dialogue, while unrelated, just off-screen nudity occurs.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, including the above woman cheating on her husband with the student, thus leading to tense family scenes between the married couple. Characters drink and/or smoke, and there's a brief drug reference, while some brief fighting and related physical contact occurs in a few scenes.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there are varying amounts of handheld camerawork in the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Barbara narrates that in the old days, they confiscated cigarettes and what sounded like "whack" magazines (presumably meaning porno) at the school, but now do the same with knives and crack cocaine.
  • Richard asks Barbara if she'd like a drink, saying they're semi-pro drinkers. Barbara asks for sherry, but he doesn't have that so the two of them have wine. Barbara then asks if he's interested in wine, with him jokingly replying, "Only the drinking part."
  • Barbara and Sheba have drinks outside a bar. Inside, miscellaneous people drink, and we then see Sheba bringing new drinks for Barbara and herself.
  • In a flashback, Sheba lies to Richard about going out for a drink with a friend when she's really going to see Steven.
  • In a flashback, Sheba appears to have a beer after having sex with Steven.
  • Sheba and Richard have wine.
  • Barbara and others have wine with dinner.
  • Barbara equates something being like a monkey coming in for a gin and tonic.
  • People have wine with a Christmas dinner at Sheba's house.
  • Barbara has a drink while upset about her sick cat.
  • Sheba and Barbara have wine.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We hear Barbara write that lasagna disagrees with her bowels (when she goes to have lunch with Sheba and her family).
  • Barbara finds cat vomit on her floor and then gets bad news from the vet that her cat only has a short while to live.
  • Barbara vomits in a toilet (heard, but not seen in full).
  • We see a side view of Sheba sitting on the toilet (her dress covering her hips, with her underwear between her knees) and she then wipes from behind.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Barbara looks down on others in her writing, wondering upon first seeing Sheba if she's a sphinx or an idiot and comments on her "tramp coat."
  • Barbara refers (in her diary writing that we hear) to an overweight female teacher as "fatty" and a "pig in knickers."
  • We see Steven fighting with another student, and Sheba is unable to break it up. Barbara then uses her authoritative voice to do so. When asked what started it, Steven says the other guy said that Sheba was a "tart" and that he "gave her one up the arse."
  • Seeing Richard's kids, Barbara refers in her writing to the teen daughter as a "pocket princess" and her 12-year-old brother with Down's syndrome as a "tiresome court jester."
  • Sheba cheats on her husband and breaks the law by carrying on a sexual affair with Steven (who's 15).
  • Sheba tells Barbara that Steven told her that his father beats him (we later learn that's not true).
  • In a flashback, Sheba lies to Richard about going out for a drink with a friend when she's really going to see Steven.
  • Sheba overhears her mother discussing her at a Christmas dinner, saying that Sheba is beautiful, but that's not the same as possessing substance.
  • Despite promising to Barbara that she'd call off the affair with Steven, Sheba continues with it.
  • About Sheba's affair with Steven, Barbara says, "You're not young...I say this to help you."
  • Barbara puts Sheba in a bind when she wants her company after having to put her cat to sleep, but Sheba is headed off to her son's first public performance. This upsets Richard who shouts, "What kind of f*cking spell has she put on you?" while Barbara angrily tells Sheba, "You owe me" and tells her to be aware of the consequences of her decision. Sheba ends up going off with her family.
  • Despite knowing she's married, another teacher (Brian) asks Barbara to feel out Sheba about how she feels about him.
  • Wanting revenge on Sheba for letting her down, Barbara lets another teacher know about Sheba's affair with Steven.
  • Barbara lies to her boss as well as Richard about not knowing of Sheba and Steven's affair.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may be unsettling or suspenseful to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material.
  • Barbara finds cat vomit on her floor and then gets bad news from the vet that her cat only has a short while to live. Later, Barbara has to put her ailing cat to sleep (we don't see the actual veterinary act, but do see Barbara being quite upset about that). We then see Barbara burying her cat (we don't see the body, but see a photo and dirt dropping onto that).
  • Barbara sees Steven following her, and races to get inside before he gets to her (he pounds on the door, but then leaves).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None, but Barbara narrates that in the old days, they confiscated cigarettes and what sounded like "whack" magazines (presumably meaning porno) at the school, but now do the same with knives and crack cocaine.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Due to the accents and some hard to hear/understand slang, the following should be considered a minimum: Phrases: "You little f*cking bastard," "F*ck off," "A non-stop f*ck-fest," "What kind of f*cking spell has she put on you?" "He's f*cking 15," "You're f*cking mad," "You're so full of sh*t," "I've been dreaming of your hot, sweet c*nt all morning," "Don't you d*ck me around," "Tramp coat," "Fatty," "Pig in knickers," "Shut up," "Bloke," "Bloody," "Little towers of testosterone," "Tart," "You're bang on," "You're all posh-ed up," "Pocket princess," "Tiresome court jester," "I'm bloody hopeless," "I'm just a battle-ax," "None of your beeswax," "Bollocks," "Dodgy," "What the hell is going on?" "Are you insane?" and "Frigging freak."
  • It's possible the film could inspire some teens to try to enter into an affair with a teacher.
  • Richard's daughter wears a midriff-revealing top.
  • Sheba wears a midriff-revealing top.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • Due to the accents and some hard to hear/understand slang, the following should be considered a minimum: At least 16 "f" words (3 used sexually), 4 "s" words, 2 slang terms using male genitals ("d*ck" and a possible third one, "pr*ck"), 1 using female ones ("c*nt"), 1 for breasts ("t*ts"), 2 asses (1 said as "arse," 1 used with "hole"), 1 bollocks, 1 hell and 1 use each of "For God's sakes," "God" and "Oh Christ."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Due to the accents and some hard to hear/understand slang, any referenced dialogue in the following should be considered a minimum.
  • Barbara narrates that in the old days, they confiscated cigarettes and what sounded like "whack" magazines (presumably meaning porno) at the school, but now do the same with knives and crack cocaine.
  • We see Steven shirtless on the playground while emulating soccer players who remove their shirts after making winning shots.
  • Another teacher, Brian, talks about someone showing their "t*ts."
  • We see Steven fighting with another student, and Sheba is unable to break it up. Barbara then uses her authoritative voice to do so. When asked what started it, Steven says the other guy said that Sheba was a "tart" and that he "gave her one up the arse."
  • Barbara comments (in her writing) about imagining Richard's "pruney" mouth perched on Sheba's breast (referring to their age difference).
  • Referring to what Sheba confided in her, Barbara repeats (in her writing) about the "non-stop f*ck-fest" Sheba and Richard had upon meeting, that he left his wife for her, and that her mother was vile and her father died sometime in the past.
  • Wondering where Sheba is during a school performance, Barbara goes looking for her, and spots her through a window (looking in). The view is only partial, but we see Sheba in her bra as she then goes down a person's body, out of our view, but presumably to the crotch of what turns out to be Steven. The way she then holds her head and mouth suggests she's just performed oral sex on him and Barbara is mortified.
  • Sheba explains to Barbara how her (Sheba's) sexual affair with Steven began, with her teaching him, her becoming smitten (and saying that something inside her felt entitled to this fling) and he becoming something of a teenage stalker. In one scene, he asks if she's a good cook and then, "You suck?" In another, they go to what looks like a train yard at night where they passionately kiss, are then on the ground doing the same along with some clothed groping, and are then seen post-sex. She then stands and goes to button or zip up her pants, but he asks if she wants to do it again. She says yes, they start making out again, and more sex is implied.
  • Barbara asks Sheba if she had "relations" with Steven on the day Barbara broke up a fight he was having with another boy. Sheba says they did, and Barbara sarcastically replies that she's glad she was an aphrodisiac for them.
  • Sheba and Richard briefly passionately kiss (clothed) at the dining room table.
  • Sheba shows a little cleavage.
  • Sheba receives a text message on her phone from Steven where he states (in abbreviated spelling) that he wishes, "I was f*cking you right now."
  • Sheba and Steven passionately kiss outside her place at night, and Richard nearly catches them when he comes out looking for Sheba.
  • We see Steven on top of Sheba having sex, outside at night. There's movement and we hear pleasured sounds as they finish, but there's no explicit nudity (they have their clothes on, but they're presumably open in the necessary spots).
  • We see Sheba's bare back as she's getting dressed, while Steven apparently stands nude in front of her (post-sex) as we see him that way from the lower hips up.
  • We see a close-up view of Sheba's cleavage, representing Barbara's view. Barbara then tells Sheba about a thing she and others used to do for reassurance that included rubbing the other's arm. She then starts to do that to Sheba, but it gets a little too intimate for the latter who stops her.
  • Realizing Sheba is still caring on the affair with Steven, Barbara answers Sheba's cell phone to hear Steven state, "I've been dreaming about your hot, sweet c*nt" all morning.
  • Sheba shows some cleavage.
  • When Sheba tries to call off their affair, Steven asks if she's also fooling around with Barbara.
  • Barbara refers to Steven as Sheba's "pubescent paramour."
  • We see Sheba's teenage stepdaughter in just a towel.
  • We see Barbara in a filled bathtub with her arm across her chest, thus blocking a view of her bare breasts.
  • Barbara writes (and thus we hear her narrate) about people not knowing what it's like to be alone and not touched for so long that the brush of a doctor's hand can send a jolt of longing straight to the groin.
  • We learn that Barbara had an affair with another fellow female teacher in the past.
  • Sheba's teenage stepdaughter is upset with her upon learning of the affair, yelling out, "You slept with a child."
  • We see a side view of Sheba sitting on the toilet (her dress covering her hips, with her underwear between her knees) and she then wipes from behind.
  • Mad about finding Barbara's diary about her, Sheba angrily asks if she wants to roll around on the floor and "Do you want to f*ck me Barbara?"
  • We see the headline about Sheba calling her the "sex teacher" and that she got 10 months for her actions.
  • We see Barbara subtly putting the moves on another woman after being done with Sheba.
  • SMOKING
  • Barbara smokes at least 8 times (and other used cigarettes are seen in an ashtray), Steven smokes at least 4 times, Richard's daughter smokes once, and a photo shows a person holding a cigarette.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Sheba tells Barbara that Steven told her that his father beats him (we later learn that's not true).
  • Referring to what Sheba confided in her, Barbara comments (in her writing) about Richard leaving his wife for Sheba, that her mother was vile and her father died sometime in the past.
  • Sheba overhears her mother discussing her at a Christmas dinner, saying that Sheba is beautiful, but that's not the same as possessing substance.
  • About Sheba spending Christmas with her family, Barbara writes (and we hear say in narration) that she's "all alone with her awful family."
  • A person says they're sorry to Barbara about someone named Jennifer (making us think she was a family member), but we later learn that person was her former lover.
  • Barbara puts Sheba in a bind when she wants her company after having to put her cat to sleep, but Sheba is headed off to her son's first public performance. This upsets Richard who shouts, "What kind of f*cking spell has she put on you?" while Barbara angrily tells Sheba, "You owe me" and tells her to be aware of the consequences of her decision. Sheba ends up going off with her family.
  • Richard is upset upon learning that Sheba has been having an affair with Steven, resulting in a lot of yelling.
  • Sheba's teenage stepdaughter is upset with her upon learning of the affair, yelling out, "You slept with a child."
  • We hear that Richard has asked Sheba to leave (the house) and on her way out, he tells her, "You're a good mother, but at times, you're a f*cking lousy wife."
  • Sheba returns back home and Richard allows her in.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Teacher/student affairs.
  • Homosexuality.
  • Condescending and elitist people.
  • Barbara narrates that in the old days, they confiscated cigarettes and what sounded like "whack" magazines (presumably meaning porno) at the school, but now do the same with knives and crack cocaine.
  • Barbara's comment that teaching is crowd control and just another social service.
  • Another teacher tells Sheba to console herself with the gems (the good students).
  • Down's syndrome.
  • Barbara's comment about "mind the gap" between dreams and reality.
  • Barbara has to put her ailing cat to sleep (we don't see the actual veterinary act, but do see Barbara being quite upset about that).
  • Barbara writes (and thus we hear her narrate) about people not knowing what it's like to be alone and not touched for so long that the brush of a doctor's hand can send a jolt of longing straight to the groin.
  • Sheba is arrested for her affair with Steven.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see Steven fighting with another student, and Sheba is unable to break it up. Barbara then uses her authoritative voice to do so.
  • Steven's mom shows up at Sheba's house, pushes Richard aside, and then slaps Sheba. She then continues to hit and whack her until Richard pulls her away.
  • Sheba tears up Barbara's place after finding a discarded diary entry about her (Sheba). When Barbara comes home, Sheba twice slaps her. She then pushes her back hard against some furniture and then hits her with something.



  • Reviewed November 17, 2007 / Posted December 27, 2006

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