Directed by: Richard Eyre
This movie is really about two things. The first thing is the interpretation of love vs. lust and the second thing is a obsession based off the first thing. This movie has everything going for it; an interesting tale, amazing actors, and a story that hasn’t been touched often. Having never seen it before my thoughts on it remained unscathed. The amount of award recognition that this movie received made me want to see it. Cate Blanchett is a force of nature and I’ve come to enjoy her work very much. After finishing the movie all I can say is that I didn’t like it. It didn’t try anything new and really feels like every other movie that involves a scandal in any way.
Barbara Covett (Judi Dench), a lowly spinster who teaches history at comprehensive school. When Sheba (Cate Blanchett) arrives at the beginning of the term she immediately connects with her. The two becomes the closet of friends until their friendship is pushed to the limits when Barbara find out that Sheba has been having sexual relations with a 15 year old student. Sworn to secrecy Barbara mustn’t mention it to any one, especially her husband Richard (Bill Nighy). After a fit of rage she lets her tongue slip with a fellow teacher causing a chain of events that lead both Barbara and Sheba to confront their sexualities.
Lets get the good things out of the way first. I think that both Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett give one of their best performances of their career. It is astonishing just how much they add to the movie. Judi Dench has both sincerity and menace that creates a fascinating character that doesn’t get much of a story arch, by the end I feel that she didn’t learn anything and seems like she is going to repeat the errors that she already committed twice before. I feel that she is so far gone in her insanity that there is no coming back and she’ll be the victim of her own obsession no matter what. Blanchett is the one who grows and come to terms with her intimacy issues. She can’t love what she has and she need validation from a younger person to fill the hole that she so desperately needs to fill. By the end she realizes that her family is all that she needs and that’s what makes her happy.
The writing is also top notch. Each character is given a proper arch that really suits their mentality. Without the narration I don’t think we would have realized just how sick Barbara is. It provides depth to movie that was rather conventional. The directing average, Richard Eyre gets the best out of his actors but doesn’t do wonders with the pacing. The cinematography works perfectly for the movie while the score is absolutely top notch.
My biggest problem with this movie is that nothing really happened to move the story along. There are three big moments and they happen at the end of each act otherwise the movie in-between these scenes don’t do much to set up what was going to happen. It is more about the friendship between the two characters but I think the movie would have been much tighter and worked better if they did more with central scandal.
That’s what really is going on during the movie. We see the friendship grow between the two woman and we are revealed throughout the movie challenges that friendship. Obsession is the key theme here. All of Barbara’s action lead more into the obsession that she has for Sheba. We are told that she had a similar relationship beforehand and that’s what leads me to believe that she’ll never learn. She isn’t likable but your don’t need to be likable to be sympathetic towards them. It is revealed that she only did it out of love and desperation to be loved. She is lonely and wants affection and that is something everyone has experienced so I do feel sympathy towards Barbara but I hate everything that she does. Same goes with Sheba.
There is a lot of good things about this movie but the execution isn’t that good. Outside of brilliant performances with interesting themes wrapped around said characters there really isn’t much to this movie. It’s bad people doing bad thing without any redemption or an real arch to their story. I should ask what was the point of telling that story and why should I watch it.