Notes on a Scandal

Director: Richard Eyre
Year Released: 2006
Rating: 1.5

Den Mother Judi Dench (dignified in a poorly written role) spies new art teacher Cate Blanchett getting close and personal with a 15-year-old student and uses that knowledge to manipulate Blanchett into being her "friend" (with privileges). Begins with some insightful voice-over by the Dench character and skilled acting by all, before falling completely apart close to its final third with rampant screaming (everyone's given at least one scene in which to raise his/her voice) and hysteria before coming to an implausibly upbeat conclusion. It's a ripped-from-the-headlines concept, and it does deserve some (real-life) attention and analysis: in this case, Blanchett's character rationalizes that she's "entitled" to sleep with whoever she wants as a 'reward' for having an older husband and a son with Down's Syndrome. Unfortunately, this story's lame-duck psychoanalysis doesn't apply so easily to complex real-life teachers/'child abusers' like Debra Lafave or Mary Kay Letourneau, nor does it contribute anything new to the debate over this so-called 'last taboo' (per Frank Rich) or the age of consent.