I wasn't terribly well prepared for last year's Oscars. When the award ceremony rolled around, I had only seen "The Departed" and a few minor movies nominated for tech awards. As it was the night of Scorsese finally getting his due, I was able to follow along somewhat. However, I was particularly intrigued by the clips of the Judi Dench / Cate Blanchett vehicle, "Notes on a Scandal," which took me completely by surprise... I hadn't seen it even advertised. I watched it tonight, and was fairly pleased.
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Annyway. I thought Judi Dench was just terrific. She really brought her character to life and made you see her the way she sees herself, later in the movie, when it becomes clear that the rest of the world thinks of her as a silly old crone, this comes as a genuine surprise (though obvious once you think of it). I suppose the way her character threatens to resurrect a certain stereotype of the predatory lesbian is very problematic, though at the same time I think the movie shows her character with enough complexity to disrupt the simple stereotype. I also found the way the film took her "impossible desire," if you will, seriously to be brave and interesting. I must confess, I was rather cheering for her because A) Judi Dench on Cate Blanchett action seemed really hot in an odd sort of way and B)because I had some sympathy for her desire for the unattainable, and her frustration at being trapped in a body that made it difficult for others to understand her desire and take it seriously.
And then, I suppose, there is the issue of class. This movie reminded me quite a bit of Fowles' The Collector in its portrayal of a sort of nightmare of the predatory lower class monster, morlock-like, stalking the upperclass, though I think Notes on a Scandal does a better job of indicting the upper-middle class for its own decadence and snobbery. Again, I think the complexity for Dench's character and the sympathy she evokes does a lot to defuse the stereotype. Issues of exploitation proper are absent, though perhaps outside the scope of the picture...
But, yeah, all in all, I really liked it.