In Richard Eyre and Patrick Marber‘s Notes on a Scandal (Fox Searchlight, 12.27), “the riveting interplay between Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett draws blood with every scene, thanks to a precision-honed script and Eyre’s equally incisive direction,” writes Variety’s Justin Chang.
Zoe Heller‘s compelling 2003 novel unraveled the sordid tale of a schoolteacher’s affair with one of her young pupils, taking the form of a coolly perceptive and bitingly funny diary written by a close friend. The book’s subversive achievement was to project the diarist’s own gaze back upon herself, turning a salacious tabloid tale into a subtle and revelatory act of confession.
“What Heller achieved through tricky literary technique, Eyre and scribe Marber (Closer) have inevitably rendered more explicitly, playing up the obsessive lesbian-stalker angle with a discreet nod in the direction of Fatal Attraction. What makes Notes on a Scandal more than just a Lifetime-ready psychothriller — as well as a satisfyingly nasty awards-season tonic — is the ruthless economy of its execution from start to finish.”