Barbara Covett (Dame Judi Dench) is a veteran and cynical schoolteacher who is close to retirement. She is barely tolerated by her less brilliant and acerbic colleagues who know nothing about her private life which consists mainly of taking care of Portia, her aging cat, and spending countless hours alone. The only means she has found to take the edge off her desperate loneliness is writing in her journal. When Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), a younger, attractive woman, joins the faculty as an art teacher, Barbara watches her from afar and has nothing but caustic things to say in her diary about her clothing and her care-free manner. Despite her disdain for this woman, Barbara finds herself reaching out to her. Sheba responds by inviting her to dinner at her house to meet Sheba's lecturer husband (Bill Nighy), who is twenty years her senior, and their two children, a sexy and rebellious 16-year-old daughter and a younger boy with Downs Syndrome. Instead of opening herself to these people, Barbara immediately sees them as competition to be beaten in the battle for Sheba's attention. Later, when Barbara discovers her new friend in a classroom having sex with Steven (Andrew Simpson), a 15-year-old from the school who has artistic talent; she realizes that knowledge of this secret gives her power over Sheba which she can use for her own purposes. Barbara promises to not tell anyone but insists that the affair must end immediately. Sheba says she will but finds herself drawn back to the boy again and again. Sheba seems uneasy with Barbara's friendship and is appalled when she discovers the older woman might have a sexual interest in her. The tenuous relationship between the two women reaches a crisis point when Barbara's cat is dying and she asks Sheba to go with her to the vet. She chooses to go with her family to see their son in a play instead. In revenge, Barbara sets in motion the scandal that will rock both their lives in ways they never imagined.
Theatrical Release: December 25th, 2006
DVD Review: 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC
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|Distribution||20th Century Fox Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 7.43 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, None|
by director Richard Eyre
The DVD image looks very good with some exceptional moments of clarity. It is dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic. I have no real complaints with the transfer appearance and the screen captures below give a good representation. The, largely wasted, 5.1 audio was clean and clear throughout. There are optional subtitles in English or Spanish.
The supplements are quite extensive starting with an audio commentary by director Richard Eyre. Directors are always the best to fill this role and Eyre doesn't disappoint. He is rife with knowledge about locational shooting, cinematography, cast, crew and the performances plus some comments about the adaptation of the novel. He talks at a comfortable pace and this is well worth listening to. We also have some featurettes - Notes on a Scandal: The Story of Two Obsessions is about 12 minutes long and includes clips from the film with input from Eyre, novelist ZoŽ Heller, screenwriter Patrick Marber and actors Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench, Andrew Simpson and Bill Nighy. There is also a 5 minute Behind the Scenes featurette where we again here from Dench, Blanchett, and Nighy (shot at the same time as the 1st featurette). This is really a lot of glad-handing and could have been infused into The Story of Two Obsessions. There is also a scant 2 minutes with In Character With: Cate Blanchett. Included are eight webisodes (short takes already available on the Net). It is about 14 minutes or mostly promotional and teaser stuff - nothing of note here.
Overall the film was carried well by the performances and the subversiveness of the topic never became exploitive (to its credit). I enjoyed the viewing and most of the extras. I love Blanchett and could watch her perform all day. A good film and a through and competent DVD.