27 January 2007

Review: Notes on a Scandal

Genre: Drama

Notes on a Scandal marks another severe acting triumph for each, Ms. Dench and Ms. Blanchett. A paean world constructed, much in the same way as As Good as It Gets (though hardly for subject matter), for to showcase extraordinary acting talents, the film unfortunately leaves little else than the daunting actresses to admire. Mr. Nighy is of course strong, and his character just askew enough, to make him seem aptly cuckold-able. And credit should also be due to the young Mr. Simpson, whose nerve for tackling quite literally the foxy Ms. Blanchett paid off (er) quite handsomely.
However, the rest of the film, while perhaps sufficient, failed to appear to me the transcendent magnificences so purported to be therein had by many other theater-goers. The screenplay, while proffering up every now and then in the voice-over narration tiny gems of acuity well elocuted by Ms. Dench, stumbled tragically toward the end, as the climax of the film failed to create a resonance transformative enough, for to affect the players and the story in such a significant way, that the details that follow it might exist as they did in a successful manner (i. e., without the otherwise necessary resolutive interconnectors). The attempted All about Eve-esque, cyclical epilogue lacked the power it needed, for to "forge" truly, as in flames and red sinewy chaos, the cast iron character that, I believe, Barbara Covett was supposed to be, the unrelenting Venus fly of age who will never give up her quest to find and ensnare "the one [she's] been waiting for." And the fall-out on Sheba Hart's end feels far less tremulous than one is lead to desire. As for the also much praised score, Phillip Glass does create a powerful emotional core in his notes but, I think, ultimately lacks the superlative finish that would refine the raw primitivistic nature of the piece into a adult force with which to reckon. The music therefore felt as if it were jejune, hungry, so intent on expressing the fury and frustration of its soul, but in the end unable to do so effectively clearly eloquently, for that it lamentably lacked the necessary acutifying intelligence of worked experience or age. (This critique is not in any way meant to reflect upon the overall capabilities of Mr. Glass, which I do consider great, but veritably meant to cite the possible improvements or opportunities for further growth evident for him as an artist by this score.) And all the other parts of the film shared a blur of similar problems, which lead them all to be sufficient for their intended purposes but ultimately unimpressive or unenduring in their effects.
So, while I will refrain for the wonderfully redeeming performances of Notes on a Scandal from declaring that I was disappointed by the film, I will declare that, despite the performances, the film did fall short of the incredible heights it lead me to believe in its previews that it would achieve. While it may have been perfectly adequate for addressing the moral questions it did and perfectly teleologically satisfying in that questioning, its effecutation of that questioning, the process of it, the whole skill and beauty that comprised its presentation, could have been perfect, for a bit more polish than it had.

Grade: B

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