(Review originally written at 3 October 2007)

This is perhaps one of the most overlooked movies of 2006. Sure, it got lots of good critical acclaim and it was even nominated for 4 Oscar's but not that many people actually went to see this movie in theaters. I'll admit that Judi Dench as an old lesbian doesn't sound like the most appealing movie but of course when you still give the movie a chance the movie and its story have much more to offer.

It's not necessarily one of the best or most clever written movies of the past years but the execution of it all is just top-class. It's a quite unusual and also daring story, mainly because of its perspective and characters. It therefor at all times remain a good and interesting movie to keep your attention and interest throughout.

But of course what really makes this movie is the Judi Dench character. She knows how to bend and manipulate the situation to her own advantage, only purely for her own personal gain and pleasure. It's a real disturbed character and definitely has some issues but in the movie she isn't portrayed as an insane psycho who would do anything to get what she wants, even though that still is what the story is all about. It's thanks to Judi Dench that the character still always keeps an humane side and a side that you could understand and perhaps even care for. It's a real great character for Dench to add to her impressive list of characters. This is perhaps her most villainous role out of her career. Her character begins as a quite normal one, that you even start to care for, but slowly and steadily it becomes obvious throughout the movie that this is one disturbed character. I also like how its only implied throughout the movie that the Judi Dench character is lesbian. The word is never said and nobody speaks of it. I don't know, just thought that this was a nice touch. Just let the viewers make all of the obvious assumptions without explaining everything formulaic and in simple movie telling form.

Also of course the make-up helps a lot. Judi Dench really looks like an ugly old woman in the movie, though in real life she is still good looking for her age.

Cate Blanchett also plays a good role. This must have been a tough role for her but she manages very well at keeping her character humane and more easy to identify with as well. Bill Nighy once more also plays a great and subtle role. His role was sort of restrained in the movie, which really was needed for the story and to not distract from the movie its main issues. I also liked how they used 'non-actor' looking and acting persons for the teachers roles. I found the atmosphere among- and the looks of the teachers very convincing in the movie. I've actually spend lots of time in the teachers room, so I know what I'm talking about. No, I spend there not as a punishment but as work, not that there's much difference though.

The movie does a very good job at creating a realistic and easy to identify with atmosphere and situations, even despite the tough and unusual subjects. It does this trough the dialog and acting but also with the help of the fine directing and story-telling, despite some flaws in it, that creates the atmosphere of the movie. It's the sort of movie that looks and feels like it all could really happen and why not to any of you? The movie feels as if it's based on a true story, even though it's not. It's based on the novel "What Was She Thinking: Notes on a Scandal" by Zoe Heller.

I also liked the Philip Glass musical score for the movie. I'm not really a Philip Glass fan in terms of that I ever sit down and listen to his scores but his scores always suit the movies and its atmosphere well. I think that's also the reason why he already has been nominated for 3 Oscar's, including for this movie.

A great movie!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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