01 January 2007

Notes on a Scandal (2006, Richard Eyre)

{45, C/C+, **} | DVD (I actually tried to see it at a theater, but it was sold out)

• I thought it was just Hollywood action tentpoles that were supposed to be so thin and "high-concept" that everything of note about them fits handily into a 2.5-minute trailer.

• Much-maligned Philip Glass score not nearly as oppressive as Marber's wall-to-wall interior monologue. Doubly annoying because I happened to see about an hour of Remains of the Day at my sister's place over the holidays, just killing time while she was wrapping presents, and marveled anew at how beautifully Hopkins internalizes Ishiguro's immaculate prose. Not a jot of voiceover, and yet every stray thought is somehow transparent. Shame M-I never made a movie that sublime again.

• Dench is still quite good, however, given that she's effectively playing The Grinch Who Stole Intimacy. Not so much a change of pace for her as a distillation of the qualities that have made her memorable as queens and dowagers. Blanchett's role, however, is well beneath her, and also required a considerably less prudish actress.

• I can only imagine at least one Bill Nighy scene got cut, since his curbside outburst ("Why is she always here?! What kind of fucking spell has she cast on you?!") comes out of nowhere. Two scenes later, however, he's relaxed and smiling in her presence again, as if he hadn't called her a witch and insulted the memory of her freshly dead cat the last time they met. Likewise, Blanchett's Sheba is alternately intuitive or oblivious according to the needs of the plot at any given moment. Puppets all.

• Has a certain tabloid-trash pull in spite of all this clumsiness, though I sort of hated myself afterward for not being bored. And there's one powerfully poetic shot that belonged in a stronger film: Sheba on the toilet, the heel of her bare foot picking up a gold star from the bathroom floor as she rises. But then Eyre and/or Marber retroactively spoil the moment by showing her find and remove it (and then deposit a second star in the trash).

• Dot-dot-dot ending smacks of cheap, easy cynicism, not to mention a lack of imagination.


msic said...

Nice new blog title. Also, thanks for your thoughts. I now feel confident skipping SCANDAL, which my gut had told me to do quite some time ago.

Paul said...

As regards the aforementioned trailer, besides giving us The While Movie Minus The Third Act, it also fairly screamed Most Misogynist Film Ever Made. Comments?