Monday, January 11, 2010

Mike the Boss - Films of 2010 - Film the Sixth: Notes on a Scandal

(Dame Judi gets ready to kick some albino ass in Notes on a Scandal)

Notes on a Scandal (2006) (dir: Richard Eyre)

One of my pet peeves in cinema is over narration. It tends to be used by incompetent story tellers to advise the audience of what is happening in the film rather than usual character dialogue and visual imagery. It is a cop out and an insult to the viewer. Having said that, I do believe narration can serve a purpose if it has context within the film and that is the case in Notes on a Scandal which uses the pretext of Judi Dench reading from her diary to advance the story throughout the film. It works, but I still wish that it had been used a little less as much of the narrating is not needed.

This film was filled with Oscar nominated acting performances as Cate Blanchett and Dame Judi tear up the screen with a great bit of histrionics. The basic plot is this: Blanchett plays an art teacher who has 2 kids at home (one with Down's Syndrome), is married to an older man (Bill Nighy, who is also excellent) and feels unfilled for no real good reason at all. So she decides to bang a 15 year old student at her school. Dench, who is a crazy cat lady living on her own and is the school's resident battleaxe, finds out and uses this knowledge to worm her way into Blanchett's life. As we come to realize that both characters are completely self-delusional the chaos, mayhem and melodrama gets cranked up to a fever pitch.

The acting is top notch and Blanchett looks gorgeous in the film. The story and character motivations left me a little dry and I did have problems with the giggles during what surely were supposed to be the most dramatic of the scenes but that may be my failing. Folks looking for their usual Britflick fix will do well with this film as they likely have a greater tolerance for this kind of thing.

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