Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Notes on a Scandal

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and some aberrant sexual content.
Profanity:Very strong language
Nudity/Sex:Explicit sexual references and situations
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, smoking, drug references
Violence/Scariness:Emotional confrontations, some violence
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007

Long-time teacher Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) doesn’t even pretend to care anymore. The other teachers come back from summer break with thoughtful reports — or apparently thoughtful reports — on their departments and their plans, but she turns in three sentences, concluding that the history department’s results are “below the national average but above the level of catastrophe. Recommendation: no change necessary.”


She feels that the world is deteriorating around her. They used to confiscate cigarettes and dirty magazines from the students. “Now it’s knives and crack cocaine,” she says crisply. “And we call it progress.” At school, she no longer tries to teach or worries about holding the line. She just wants to get through it — and then to go home to feel superior about the students and other faculty members when she writes about it in her diary, a pen dipped in acid and special entries embellished with gold stars.


But her name isn’t Covett for nothing. As soon as she sees “artfully disheveled,” sweet-natured, but weak-willed new art teacher Sheba Hart, Barbara wants something very badly indeed. But what?


Her first reaction is contempt, with just a touch of curiosity. She almost despises Sheba for being ineffectual, but is glad for the chance to rescue her by stopping a fight between two students, showing off her ability to command obedience if not respect. When Sheba invites her for lunch, she is girlishly delighted, having her hair done and dressing up. She allows herself to feel special, noticed, wanted.


But she gets to Sheba’s house and it is not special after all. Sheba is married to a benign but shambling older man and is the mother of a surly teenage daughter and a son with Down syndrome. Sheba, a little tipsy and careless by nature, confides in Barbara, who feels special at last. Her secrets are like treasure locked in Barbara’s safe deposit box.


But then Barbara finds out that Sheba has a secret she has not shared. Sheba is having an affair with a 15-year-old student. Barbara finds this both intoxicating and infuriating. She had briefly thought of Sheba as a kindred spirit — or thought she thought of her that way. But now she has something even better — a reason to feel superior, all the pleasure of feeling contempt for someone who is young, beautiful, loved, and has a house in the Dordogne, and, best of all, the power of a secret. She can look around the school and enjoy knowing something no one else knows, and she can enjoy looking at Sheba and knowing she is in her power.


An incisive script by Patrick Marber (Closer), based on the novel by Zoe Heller and brilliantly ruthless performances by Dench, Blanchett, and Bill Nighy as Sheba’s husband make this an intense psychological drama with the urgency of last night’s news.

Parents should know that this movie has very strong language and explicit sexual references and situations, including adultery and an adult teacher having sex with an underage teenager student. A predatory homosexual interest is a factor in the plot. Characters drink and smoke. There are disturbing emotional confrontations, a sad death of a pet, and there is some brief violence. A strength of the movie is the portrayal of a loving and supportive family of a Down syndrome child.


Families who see this movie should talk about what was important to Barbara and Sheba and about how they thought about (or did not think about) the decisions they made. What is the significance of the characters’ names? Of the final scene? Of Sheba’s being a potter and Barbara’s being a history teacher? Who was the predator in Sheba’s relationship with Steven?


Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The History Boys, and All About Eve.



Previous Posts

List: The Best Movie Con Games and Grifters
In honor of this week's release of "Focus," here are some of my favorite movies about con games and grifters. Remember that "con" comes from "confidence." A con man (or woman) makes you believe in them and have confidence in their schemes. And cons make great movies. If you haven't seen these, crank

posted 3:45:21pm Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Love & Mercy with Paul Dano and John Cusack as Brian Wilson
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VUhFpFQeilM?rel=0" frameborder="0"] "Love & Mercy" tells the story of Brian Wilson, the brilliant but troubled member of the Beach Boys.

posted 8:14:21am Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Contest: Win an Insurgent T-Shirt
Getting ready for the second film in the "Divergent" series? Not sure you have just the right thing to wear? I'm here to solve your problem! I have an "Insurgent" t-shirt (Size L) to give away!

posted 3:55:04pm Feb. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Toys That Impair Imagination: The Over-Licensing of Children's Toys
It's always tempting to give children toys from the movies and television programs they love, and some of them are high-quality or even educational. But Melissa Atkins Wardy has a very good argument

posted 8:00:05am Feb. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Ryan Potter, Hiro in "Big Hero 6"
Ryan Potter provided the voice for Hiro in this week's DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week, the Oscar-winning Big Hero 6. Talking to him on the phone, it was easy to imagine I was talking to Hiro himself. Other than a few moments with Maya Rudolph, who played Hiro's harried guardian, he did not interact

posted 3:58:31pm Feb. 24, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.