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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Anne-Marie Duff

Suffragette (2015)

Sadly, it doesn’t seem like much good has come of this.

During the early 20th Century, women in Britain were able to do a lot of things. They could work, get married, breed children, cook, clean, smoke, drink, and a whole bunch of other things that are most associated with living. However, the one, and perhaps, most important task that they could not, hell, were not allowed to do, was vote. Because of this, many women stood-up and let their voices be heard, spearheading the suffrage movement; it’s also the same movement that one woman named Maude (Carey Mulligan) doesn’t quite care for to begin with. For one, she knows that her job is valuable, her husband (Ben Whishaw) loves her, and that she doesn’t want to lose her, so she decides to just keep her mouth shut and move on. That changes one day, however, when she’s recruited by Edith New (Helena Bonham Carter) and brought to an appearance by the suffrage movement leader Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep). Now, Maude understands what the fight is all for, and although she risks not just her family, but her own life as well, she’s still very inspired to do the right thing and make sure that women are granted their given right.

"I wish I were a gal, too."

“I wish I were a lass, too.”

Like most other civil rights movies, Suffragette likes to point out just how ridiculous it was that a certain group of people couldn’t do something, because of an even more ridiculous ideology that, in hindsight, doesn’t seem to ever make much sense. In this movie’s case, the certain group is women, and the ideology is the right to vote; why women weren’t allowed to vote for so very long is based on pure sexism, but that’s about it. While it would have been one thing for the movie to dive deeper into exactly why so many British men/politicians thought that this idea was right, the movie doesn’t ever go for that.

Instead, it just focuses on a few stories of a few women who may, or may have not existed during this movement, but hey, that’s what movies are all for.

And honestly, the best parts of Suffragette are when it’s focusing on all the backlash these women received for making their voices heard. There’s something incredibly disturbing about watching a group of women getting beaten and clubbed by a group of policemen because they, “were felt as a threat”. There’s also the not-so violence backlash these women faced – whether it be through losing their jobs, their families, or being tossed aside from the rest of society as “trouble-makers” – it’s all sad, but serves a greater purpose to make the movie’s message go down a lot less smoothly.

But the problem with Suffragette is that it also deals with these women’s lives which aren’t all that interesting, if I’m being frank. Not to say that I had a problem with the movie trying to focus in on these character’s lives and show how they were affected by each and everything, but at the same time, it was still hard for me to wholly care when everything was laid out in such a conventional manner. Take, for instance, our lead protagonist, Maud, and her story; though I’m sure she shares her story along with many other women, hers, above all the rest, is given the most focus and attention because she doesn’t actually start out as a suffragist.

In fact, she was actually recruited into it all, and the hows and whys of that all, are probably a little more interesting than the character herself. Which isn’t to say that Carey Mulligan doesn’t do a solid job in this role, because she does, but still, it’s very much the same kind of Carey Mulligan performance we’ve seen her do a hundred times before, but in far more prettier clothes and wigs. She’s emotional, sad, and supposedly dirty and ragged, but somehow, her hair still finds a way to be in the right place at that right picture perfect time. Don’t worry, I’m not ragging on Mulligan for being beautiful, however, most of the movies that she does, can’t seem to help but pay as much attention to this aspect of her, and sort of put the rest of her versatility on the back-burner.

No matter how much pain or strife she goes through, that Carey Mulligan is always ready to make sadness, beautiful.

No matter how much pain or strife she goes through, that Carey Mulligan is always ready to make sadness, beautiful.

The only exception to the rule is, of course, Shame, for obvious reasons.

And everybody else here is fine, too, if a tad underused. Helena Bonham Carter seems like she had a more fun and fiery performance here, but is mostly just called on for some witty one-liners to deliver when the movie needs a joke to clear the air; Anne-Marie Duff is also fine, but it seems like her backstory and what her character goes through during the duration of the film, is actually more interesting than Maude’s, but hey, that’s just me; Ben Whishaw plays Maude’s husband and, as expected, is sort of there to just serve as a needed window-dressing; Brendan Gleeson gets a meaty role as a police inspector who may, or may not be pleased with these suffragists, and to see how he constantly fights with himself over what the next best move to make, is very engaging; and Meryl Streep, despite being advertised heavily in the promotion for this movie, is hear for maybe five or ten minutes, and that’s about.

But, in true Meryl Streep fashion, she’ll probably win an Oscar for it. Just you wait.

In case you couldn’t tell, though, there’s a lot of interesting subplots going on here, but sadly, none of them get nearly as much attention as Maude’s does and that’s a bit of a problem. It isn’t a problem that Maude’s was actually given some attention to begin with, but because she’s the main one, and it’s not all that compelling, it does feel like she’s taking a bit away from the rest. Once again, she doesn’t ruin the movie, but she does keep it away from being as smart and as powerful as it could have definitely been, considering the message and all.

Consensus: Though the message is strong and the cast is fine, Suffragette still suffers from a less-than-engaging main story, that doesn’t always blend in well with the rest of the proceedings.

6 / 10

You go, girls!

You go, girls!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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Nowhere Boy (2010)

Everybody has mommy-issues. Even iconic musicians.

Before he was shot and killed in 1980, John Lennon (Aaron Johnson) was a young, rebellious teenager like you or I, but he had one big problem: He had no idea who his mother (Anne-Marie Duff) was. From what he knew, she was a woman who had him with a marriage that fell-through, the father left her, and backed the mother so far into a corner, that she had to get rid of little John, and give him away to his Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott Thomas). Mimi has been taken care of John for the longest time, ever since he was 5 to be exact, however, after a recent tragedy hits them both, John realizes that his mother is not only still alive, but lives right by his home. John, obviously out of a state of curiosity, decides to visit her and hang out with her, listening to rock n roll music, smoking cigarettes, getting to know his step-sisters, learn how to play the guitar, and skip school. This does not sit well with Mimi, but has John gone on too far to where he doesn’t know who’s right for him, or what for that matter?

Most frown upon this fact that I hold very near and dear to my heart: I am not a huge fan of the Beatles. Don’t have me mistaken, I do appreciate all that they have done for the art of music and consider one of them the biggest influences of all-time, but can I really call myself “a lover” that needs to hear at least one song from each and every album at least once or twice a day? No, not at all. However, I understand their influence to many other bands/musicians out there, which is enough for me to give them the duty and respect they so rightfully deserve.

All that said, I didn’t really find myself caring to see this biopic too much. One reason had to do with the fact that it was about John Lennon and John Lennon only, but also about a part of his life that wasn’t about the Beatles or making music all that much. Instead, it was more about the parental-issues he had growing up as an adolescent in the 50’s, which didn’t really pique my interest as much as it may have done for Beatles fans.

The oddest son-mother-aunt love-triangle I have ever seen, if there ever was one.

The oddest son-mother-aunt love-triangle I have ever seen; if there ever was one.

However, I am a fan of film, especially when they’re done as well as this one, which is why I’m not all that surprised I liked what I saw, despite the subject-material.

On paper, it’s nothing new or out-of-the-ordinary that you haven’t seen done a hundred times before: Boy goes through angst, finds his real mother, gives his adoptive mother a hard time, begins to act out, do/say stupid things, and eventually come have it all come together in a way that’s pleasant and used more as a learning-piece for the rest of his life. However, this tale has the gimmick of being about a younger John Lennon who, not only was more rebellious and snobby than some might have expected the lovable, hippie/peace-maker he would later be in life to actually start off as, but was also just like you or me, except probably had more problems going for himself. Which, as said as it to say, does work in the film’s advantage because it shows what a sad kid he grew-up as, but yet, found solace in such pleasurable activities like playing guitar, listening to music, dancing, swearing, smoking, and having a shag every once and a lucky night. See? Whoever thought that Mr. Lennon himself could be such a little d-bag when he was younger, but also a kid who was getting the grasp of the world, right before he had that said world in the palm of his hands.

Then again though, this flick is more about John’s life before the Beatles broke big, and the low-key approach works. Director Sam Taylor-Wood doesn’t offer anything new or fresh to bring to the familiar-tale of biopics, but that’s fine enough since she doesn’t get in the way of the material, it’s heart, or it’s performers. You can tell that she cares enough for John’s story that she doesn’t allow for it to fall down the conventional path of being too melodramatic, or too subtle. She gets the job done right there in the middle, and it works by not only showing and getting us ready for what was going to shape the rest of John’s life, but why it mattered. The man had a brain in his head, and used it to bring pleasure and happiness to many others out there in the entire globe. That’s the beautiful thing about music, and it only helped that John had a voice and a mind that was worth taking a peek at here and there.

Remember how I said I wasn’t a fanboy? Well, I’m still not. But I like John Lennon. Is there any problem with that?

In fact, some of the worst parts of this movie come from when they give little mentions and nods to the future that was going to consist of what some say, “The Greatest Band of All-time”. Despite not being a full-on lover of the Beatles, I could still touch on some references (because I do love music, as well as movies), and more or less, they seemed cheeky and coy, rather than meaningful to the story or the plot. There’s a lot of discussions about getting “a band” together and there’s some music-playing, but nothing to where this feels like it’s really exploring the music or the material that went into it, and more of just the person who wrote it most of the time. It’s fine to do that with a biopic about any person, it’s just that Taylor-Wood was so obvious with her musical-segues, that it seemed like she seemed obligated to have some music in there so not everybody will be pissed that they didn’t hear “Hey Jude”, despite it being released in ’68, way after this movie ends.

"Uhm, mom? You know there's more room on the other couch over there?"

“Uhm, mum? You know there’s more room on the other couch over there?”

Where the film does pick up and keep you interested is in the real life characters themselves, and the actors playing them. Aaron Johnson (who is now Taylor-Johnson apparently, shacking up with the director) does not look a lick at all like John Lennon, younger or older, but he makes up for that in the way that he’s so good at playing a young dick that it’s easy to forget obvious problems here and there. First of all, most of the performance consists of him looking mad, sad, or on the verge of breaking every valuable-item in whatever room he’s on, and secondly, his accent does drop in and out. However, the kid is good in this role and feels like a young dude, just trying to get ahold of whatever the hell is bringing him down so much in this world, while also being able to express himself in a way that the rest of the world can feel the same pain he went through as well. In that regard, Johnson is great and does well, even if the material doesn’t really ask him to go above and beyond the standard of what we think we know of John Lennon, especially when he was just a young prick.

The one’s who really get to stretch out their acting-muscles are Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff, who both play different versions of mommy to John’s little, pained-child. Thomas is great in this role as Mimi considering she always seems like she has a stick up her ass and never wants it to leave. However, you can tell that she cares for John, wants nothing but the best for him, and loves him endlessly, even if she has a hard time of showing it in the type of way he wants. Then again though, I think anytime you put Thomas in a movie, doesn’t matter which one it is, she’s going to give you some great work, so it should come as to no surprise here. The one who really shocked the hell out of me here was Duff, who gives Julia a longing-sense of frustration and regret as well, but likes to hide behind the facade of hers where she’s still young, wild, and crazy, as if she were a teenager once again. There’s some odd scenes between her and Lennon, where it feels like she’s a little too close for comfort, but together, they hold their ground and keep this mother-son relationship understandable and emotional, despite getting a tad creepy at times.

Consensus: Many who love the hell out of the Beatles and want to hear more of their music, will be very disappointed with Nowhere Boy, as it’s more of a biopic on the younger-life of John as he struggled, came to terms, and tried to understand the world he lived in, no matter how much pain and heartbreak it was full of, and it’s mostly all engaging.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Hate to say it, but right here is the beginning of the end.

Hate to say it, but right here is the beginning of the end.

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

The Last King of Scotland (2006)

Fear the lazy eye.

Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) has just graduated from school and has no idea what to do with his life, nor how to make the best use of his talents. He then decides to spin his globe, stop it with his finger, and wherever it lands, he will go to and try out his profession there. Miraculously, his finger lands on Uganda, which leads him to an even more miraculous twist of fate when he becomes very close with Uganda’s most iconic, most barbaric figures in history: Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker). At first, they develop a friendship over sheer understanding and joyfulness of just being around one another, but once things in Uganda start to get hotter and more riotous, Amin’s true colors show, and their friendship becomes strained. So strained that James wants to leave and get the hell out of town, yet, what he doesn’t know is that when he accepted Amin’s friendship, he also accepted all of the problems and pitfalls that would come along with the man’s dictatorship as well.

It seems like every other year, we get a movie about Africa suffering and how the white people came into to try and sweep it all away. Sometimes they do work and offer us plenty of thoughts to toil around in our heads, and other times, they feel like a sad-sap attempt at a bunch of white Hollywood liberals trying to throw their guilt onto us. It’s almost as if we did something wrong, just by deciding to do nothing, even though they’re country has been killing themselves from the outside-in for many, many years, and hasn’t seem to slow itself down a bit. However, this is a movie review blog, and it shall stay as that. So all political-stances aside, let’s get back on with the movie we have at hand here.

"No, no. no, my fine people. Over 300,000 Ugandans dead is a good thing."

“No, no. no, my fine people. Over 300,000 Ugandans dead is a good thing.”

So yeah, The Last King of Scotland. Pretty good movie, want to know why? Well, remember what I was just talking about in the last paragraph about how Hollywood uses the suffering of Africa to make us all feel guilty and spoiled in our righteous minds? Well, surprisingly, director Kevin Macdonald doesn’t take that stance, and instead gives us a story about the powers of evil and corruption, and how easy it is to be succumbed by. While you can tell that Macdonald feels like Africa should have been better aided in terms of where they were headed and who could have helped them out, he surprisingly keeps things rooted in a sense of realism, despite the story being fictitious in a sense.

Don’t have me taken as an idiot: I know that Idi Amin was a real person and is considered one of the most notable faces of the 20th Century, but the story of the Scottish doctor, who later became his personal physician, only to become his personal whipping-boy, isn’t true. It’s simply a character used to place us in on the side-lines as we watch and witness all of the terrible things that Admin did throughout his reign as dictator of Uganda. However, we never quite get to see all of those terrible, horrible things, despite them being mentioned to many of times (most notably at the end when a post-script says that he killed over 300,000 Ugandans). We hear about the “disappearances” of the people closest Garrigan, and maybe one or two shots of being, *ahem*, shot and killed, but never anything so brutal and realistic to the point of where we understand this man’s brutality and horror that he bestowed upon citizens that he considered “his people”. Sounds like a weird complaint, I know, but it just made me feel like I was only getting Garrigan’s story, and nothing else; which felt like sort of a cheap-attempt at getting past all of terribly real, awful stories that actually happened, to real-life human-beings.

That said, it’s a movie, and I can’t hate on it for everything that it was supposed to be in my eyes, and not what it is. And what it is, if you must know, is a pretty solid movie considering how easily left-ended this flick could have went. The main character, Nicholas Garrigan could have easily been a distasteful piece of work that we not only love to hate, but want to see bad things happen to, just so we feel better about our own insecurities about not being as privileged, good-looking and as charming as he is. And for a quite awhile: He totally is that type of character. He’s snobby; he’s in way too over his head; he falls too quickly in love with the glamorous life that comes with the title of being the dictator’s “closest and most-trusted”; and he gets his magic-stick stuck in some places that no man would ever dream of being stuck, ever, and yet, we still care for him and want to see him come out of this whole situation alive.

A lot of that credit for making this character work deserves to go towards to Macdonald, but it also deserves to go to James McAvoy as well, because he’s able to make us sympathize with this dude, all because he shows us that he’s human, and what would a human like you or I do in the same type of situation he’s in? Would you throw away all possibilities of having a grand-spanking, awesome time living in it up in Uganda? Or, would you take it, follow the first instinct that comes to your mind in any given situation, and still live it up in Uganda? I feel like I would take it as well, especially knowing the type of guy I was dealing with in this type of situation; and for that, McAvoy deserves credit because he makes us feel like we’re watching a real, honest and truthful person that yes, makes a whole bunch of mistakes along the way, but still has his mind and heart in the right place to where you could see him pulling it all off at the end. Also, not forget to mention that every lady he runs into, instantly falls head-over-heels for him, and seconds later, fall right into the comforts of his own bed and living-space.

"Here is my third wife. You can bang her as you please. I have too many wives to keep a full-watch of."

“Here is my third wife. You can bang her as you please. I have too many wives to keep a full-watch of.”

Dirty, cad-like Scot. That Anne-Marie Duff sure is a lucky gal.

But as I’m sure you all know by now, even though McAvoy is the leading-character in this whole movie, he’s not the main centerpiece to what this story is really all about. Who is, is Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin, giving one of his greatest performances ever, and I’m not just saying that because he won an Oscar for this. No, he really is THAT good and shows us that he can take a famous, real-life figure such as Amin, spin the way we view him as a monster, and make us see the world and his decisions from his side of the desk. Don’t worry though, it’s not like the movie makes a reasonable-argument for the mass-murders that he committed under his reign and shows that he was just a troubled dude; no, instead, it gives us a glimpse at a real dude, who had lovable and charming features to him, but also had some very evil and monstrous ones as well, and sadly, they began to take over his whole persona later on in his life and in his reign. But where Whitaker succeeded the most in portraying this man was not by giving us a sympathetic figure, but by showing us just how pure hatred can overcome a man, take all of the nice qualities about his character away from him, and drive away any sort of logical thinking or reasoning from his mind. It’s scary to think that this guy who one second, could be hugging and kissing a bunch of Ugandan women and babies, telling them that “they’re the future faces of Uganda”, and then the next, could be yelling at the top of his lungs about how he wants respect and will stop at nothing to get it, even if violence is needed, and was the figure everybody believed into to save them all from their dreadful days of living and pick them right up from the ground. But what’s even scarier, is how well Whitaker allows us to see a man who obviously had nice things going for him, but just lost sight of what they were once his power became too big, even for him. Great performance, and it’s one that reminds me why this dude is the finest, working-actor out there today.

All Battlefield Earth jokes aside.

Consensus: Less of a character-study, and more of a look at how hatred, anger and evilness can boil inside a person’s mind for so long, The Last King of Scotland features Forest Whitaker’s best performance of all-time, one that goes beyond the usual, “noticeably, bad guy-gone-sympathetic” route we usually see from biopics, and instead, gives us a raw, unrelenting, gritty look at what the type of man he could have been, had he not gone so far off the radar with his own sense of self-worth.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"WE! WE! WE ARE UGANDA! And some white Scot."

“WE! WE! WE ARE! UGANDA! Along with some white Scottish dude.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBComingSoon.net

Closed Circuit (2013)

Good thing I don’t live in London. Seems like they’re government is crazy.

Over 120 people were killed after an explosion was set-off in very busy London marketplace, and the main suspect is an Turkish immigrant known as Farroukh Erdogan (Denis Moschitto). After his defense attorney is mysteriously killed, Martin Rose (Eric Bana) rises on the scene and is given the opportunity to work with special advocate Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall). Seems fine and professional and all of that, except it isn’t because the two had an affair that destroyed Rose’s marriage some years earlier. However, the court can’t know about that, or else they would both be out of a job and would lose this case; one that surprisingly ends up being very serious and detrimental to the government, because people begin to wind-up dead, just as more and more information comes out about it.

The best way to really, and I do mean REALLY, get a thriller pumping, is just to add the threat of the government. Once they’re involved, then you know there’s nowhere safe to go, nowhere to hide and no way you can come out of this unscathed in one way or another. Mostly all thrillers end the same with the government prevailing and showing us that no matter how hard us determined human-beings may try, the government is always going to be one step ahead of us and ready to lift their magical, power fingers in order to come out on top. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles and although this movie does give us very subtle hints at what type of powerful wrecking force the government can truly be, it never seems to go anywhere with it.

It's the paper-guy. He can't be trusted. KILL HIM!!

It’s the paper-guy. He can’t be trusted. KILL HIM!!

See? Didn’t think all of my jabbering and ranting had a point, now did you?

Anyway, where I was getting at with that paragraph was that the movie definitely wants to be like one of those frenetic, paranoid thrillers from the 70’s, but never fully amounts to that. And I don’t mean that in the way that the movie doesn’t generate any type of suspense or tension in the air, because it sure as hell does; it just never quite gets to that point where I understood that this was a “Two small-time lawyers vs. the big-ass government” type of story. It only kicks in with about 10 minutes left, and that’s where I really understood what was going on, for what reasons, and who exactly was all involved with this cluster-fuck. Only then did I get a chance to pain the full-picture, but everything leading-up to it was just a tad too confusing for me.

Not because I need every single clue, hint or plot-twist painted out on the walls for me, it’s mainly just because the story never sits with one aspect and pays attention to it the most. We get that these two got it on back two years ago, and rather than making that the fore-front of the movie and paying attention to how this whole case causes a strain on they’re relationship, the movie only alludes to it from time-to-time, and suddenly, out of nowhere, becomes ALL about it by the end, just as things with the political-conspiracy is starting to heat up. That bothered me, not just because it seemed unnecessary or stupid, but because it probably would have made the movie more effective and more suspenseful, had we cared for these characters and their relationship, but we sort of don’t. We just sit there, watch them as they fumble around, look behind their shoulders everytime they turn a corner and throw subtle hints that they just want to get on top of the table right now and go at it like never before. Some of that sounds fun, but most of it isn’t.

However, as much of a thrashing as this movie may be getting from yours truly, I do have to say that I got tense very often. It isn’t like the flick totally loses all sense of its mystery and what it’s actually about; it actually pays close enough attention to the case, therefore, allowing us to feel more compelled when we begin to realize what’s happening and what this cover-up means. Once we get painted a clearer-picture, it all makes sense and takes you by the throat and throws you along, I just wish it happened earlier, and with more character-development.

"Screw this case! Let's just screw one another, for old time's sake!

“Screw this case! Let’s just screw one another, for old time’s sake!

That said, I can’t get on the cast’s case all that much because everybody does their best with what they’re given, even if it is only for a short amount of screen-time. Rebecca Hall is still one of those actresses that has yet to really do anything for me, but she shows that she’s getting bigger and better roles now, especially with her performance here as Claudia Simmons-Howe. Hall’s a bit sexy, but she always seems inspired to do the right thing, which makes it a lot easier for us to actually root her on and care for her when the shit hits the fan. Eric Bana, despite having a pretty piss-poor British accent attached to his vocal-chords, does a nice job being smart, confident, and slightly heroic as Martin Rose. Together, they show that they do have chemistry, but since they aren’t on-screen together all that much and aren’t really given much to do with one another other than just look scared and shout out facts of the case, it only feels like a missed-opportunity.

The rest of the cast is pretty rad too, especially because they have some real heavy-hitters here. Jim Broadbent is probably the most sinister he’s ever been here as the Attorney General of the case, and shows that he can not only charm us, but make us wet our shorts at the same time when he wants to; Ciarán Hinds is a lovable presence to watch on screen, but you know that there’s always something up with him that you can’t quite put your finger on just yet; Julia Stiles randomly shows up as a New York Times journalist whose role shows not much purpose, but it still made me smile seeing her working again, so that’s something to commend; and Anne-Marie Duff, for all of the sexiness that she has, really scared the hell out of me as Melissa, somebody you expect to be a goodie-goodie in all of this, but somehow turns out to be the decider in all that happens. Overall, a solid cast that I wish was given more to work with, even though they do make the best of what they have here.

Consensus: Even though it doesn’t really get tense and edgy until the final 10 minutes or so, Closed Circuit is still an okay watch if you don’t have much else to do with your life, just don’t expect much in terms of character-development or shocks.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Something's out of place here, and it isn't that red dress.

Something’s out of place here, and it isn’t that red dress.

Photos Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Notes on a Scandal (2006)

Luckiest freakin’ student ever!

When Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) joins St George’s as the new art teacher, Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) senses a kindred spirit. But Barbara is not the only one drawn to her. Sheba begins an illicit affair and Barbara becomes the keeper of her secret.

Honestly, what could would ever want to pass up on a chance to sleep with their teacher, especially if that teacher was Cate Blanchett?!? I mean come on people, let’s be real here.

Going right into this flick, I was expecting something that was going to be pretty generic with a good cast to elevate it all. However, aside from the cast, it’s also the writing that really works here and keeps everything tight, just when it starts to loosen up a bit. The film starts off with a very normal pace with a chronicle of these two ladies becoming “friends”, but then when the affair is caught by Barb, all hell breaks loose and we have ourselves a psychological thriller that didn’t really stop moving. May get a tad predictable at times, but you’re able to get past that thanks to everything else that’s going on

Everything is very dark and eerie in this flick because it touches on a lot of topics like pedophilia, adultery, and lesbianism but it still somehow maintains a very dry sense of wit that made me laugh at times. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this is a dark comedy, but I will say that it catches you off guard sometimes by how witty it can be, but you still can’t get past the fact that this flick continues to go deeper, deeper, and deeper into its story until there’s barely anything left in it. A very fine script and the direction from Richard Eyre, may not be anything special but at least he isn’t trying to get involved with the story too much. He just lets it play-out like it should.

My main problem with this flick was that the whole reasoning as to how this affair started in the first place seemed a bit unbelievable. First of all, Sheba does not seem like the type of older gal that would develop a school girl crush on a boy, and then to start shacking the high hoots with him either. It seemed like Sheba herself, was a little too intelligent and mature for this type of behavior but then again, I can’t say this too much because certain shit like this does happen in real-life. Pissed that it doesn’t happen at my school but teacher-student banging does go down none the less.

What went along with this problem was that the reasoning Sheba gave as to why she wanted this kid in the first place, was because she felt lonely with her husband, who’s 20 years older than her, and the family she had to raise with him. Yeah I get this, but the film barely shows us any of these problems ever happening until later on in the flick when her mind starts to get a little crazier from all of the constant paranoia of being found-out. Maybe if they touched up on this a bit more, I would have been able to believe it all but it came off as a bit of a stretch or a lame excuse for this chick wanting to bone a younger kid. It also didn’t help that the kid was a terrible actor, and I swore to God that if he said the word “miss” in his fake-ass Irish accent, I was going to punch the screen hoping to get a piece of him too. Dreams never do come true!

However, all of those problems are almost forgotten about whenever I think about the performances here from the trio of leads here. Judi Dench is very unglamorous as Barbara because she’s sad, lonely, old, looking for love, but also very, very, very creepy deep-down inside. She’s pretty much playing a crotchety old hag that has a lot more heart and warmth to her that makes you feel some sympathy for her character but then you also start to feel like you can’t trust this chick and neither can any other character in this flick either. Dench definitely takes over the screen every time she gets a chance to, and shows just how creepy of a character she can be.

Cate Blanchett is also a revelation as Sheba, one of her more unsympathetic character roles. Blanchett is constantly on fire with this character because she’s sad, lonely, and in need of love, but in a very different way. Unlike Barbara, Sheba is a character that you can trust in what she’s going to do next and even though Dench gets a lot of crazy material t0 work with, Blanchett is still allowed to let loose as well especially when it’s on each other. I don’t know what it was here, but there’s just something so awesome and perfect about watching two respected actresses like Blanchett and Dench go all-out on each other in a cat fight that features barely any physicality; all verbal baby.You can’t also forget to mention the always perfect, Bill Nighy as Sheba’s husband. Nighy almost steals every scene he has on-screen with each of these two chickies, but it’s by the end when all of the emotions of this character start to pour out is when you realize that this character has a lot more to him than you would expect. After seeing him and Dench try their hardest to be happy and make love in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, I think it’s pretty safe to say that they have both regained my respect for them.

Consensus: Notes on a Scandal may have problems with believablity, but where it succeeds in is perfect performances from its cast, an script that continues to go farther down into what it’s trying to explore, and a plot that may be generic and simple at times, ends up being very unpredictable and thrilling.

8/10=Matinee!!