S---- and I went to see Notes on a Scandal last night. It is the story of Barbara (Judi Dench), a battle-axe of a teacher at the local secondary school who is well beyond her teaching prime and has become jaded towards the students that she is supposed to be teaching, and Sheba (Cate Blanchett), the shining, lovely new art teacher who strikes up an affair with one of her 15-year-old students. Barbara and Sheba develop an unlikely friendship, but when Barbara discovers Sheba's indiscretion, she uses the incident to her advantage in order to take control of Sheba. It is a well-crafted film that studies the impact that a life of loneliness and personal neglect can have on a person; and how secrets, and the control that can be gained through the confidence of keeping secrets for another, can be dangerous. Told partly through the daily, meticulous journals that Barbara keeps, you slowly come to realize how she reinvents her daily activities to her advantage, changing scenarios between she and Sheba just enough to make it appear to the uninformed observer that they have struck up an amazingly close relationship, bordering on life-long companionship, but for the fact that most of it is in Barbara's head.
Judi Dench is amazing in the film, portraying Barbara's loneliness and eventual manic control over Sheba to the point of perfection. You really believe her performance. Highly recommended.