Thursday, January 18, 2007

Notes on a Scandal

Director, Richard Eyre: Rating 10/10

I knew nothing of this film except that it starred Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett when I got a free pass to attend an advance screening on Thursday, Jan 11. I eventually saw a few words from the tagline and learned that in the film a teacher has an affair with her high school student. That is all I knew when I walked into to see this movie. What an amazing surprise! This is a gem of film packed with raw emotions and riveting acting. This is Judi Dench’s movie through and through but Cate Blanchett plays her role convincingly -- one really believes her characters confusion. I don’t want to talk about the story as this movie is best seen without knowing anything about it. But one thing struck me as the story was portrayed. What really are scandals? Sure there are some scandals which are worth reporting about but in a lot of cases, the media appears to swoop down on an easy prey and enjoys the destruction of a defenseless individual. Example, one president lies about his affair with a woman and is crucified. Another president lies even more blatantly, orders the invasion of a country, occupies a country, helps his friends get richer, is responsible for the destruction of a nation, causes the world to be a more unstable place but is given a free ride by the media. No-one in the media crucifies him and people stand by quietly. Which is a worse scandal?

In modern society where much importance is given to film stars, it is no wonder that celebrity marriages and affairs are given front page coverage whereas real crimes are hidden behind closed doors. Now, the film is not about a scandal involving a celebrity but a mere student and a public school teacher. So one could say that this falls in the realm of public domain but everything is not that clear-cut. The movie is handled in such a way that one can’t get a feeling of any wrong doing on part of the elder teacher and the young student – both wanted something and they got it. Is that wrong? In terms of the law, yes. But if one looks at the relationship shown, then things seemed appropriate.

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