Scott, Sheena, and I met Scott's co-workers yesterday to see this movie. Note to Regal Cinemas (or whoever places previews): The gray-haired Judi Dench fans (including myself) at Notes on a Scandal are really NOT interested in sitting through a long, gruesome, and distrubing trailer for The Hitcher (IMDB.com).
Notes on a Scandal (IMDB.com) stars Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett as UK public school teachers. The story is told through the journal notes of Dench's character, Barbara Covett, which feature acerbic observations about her colleagues, students, and society. Covett is surprised to be befriended by the new, young, and naive art teacher, Blanchett's Sheba Hart. Covett discovers Hart's affair with a 15 year old male student, but instead of turning Hart in, she uses the potential scandal to manipulate her way into Hart's life.
Interestingly, this movie doesn't focus on the sex scandal. The filmmakers are careful to portray the student as a willing participant who stalks Hart into having the affair. However, this isn't a Mary Kay Letourneau type of love affair. In fact, there is a scene in which the student states that he only want to have fun and appears overwhelmed when he learns more about the reality of Hart's life.
Dench's performance is amazing. There are few scenes in which she somehow turns her eyes so black that she reminds me of an angry cat. This is definitely the best movie I've seen this year.