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Notes on a Scandal Review Critics


Dave White Profile

… your favorite English Dame is a monster … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    It's a poison bonbon tastier than just about anything else out there.

    Read Full Review

  • 60

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    Eyre does a fine job overseeing performances by a terrific cast that rings true until female hysteria takes over the final act. But in tone and theme, the film has all the hallmarks of playwright-screenwriter Marber's stark, uncompromising misanthropy, if not misogyny.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Notes on a Scandal may be disturbing, but it is a potent and captivating account of misconduct and betrayal.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Taken at face value, these two women are simply despicable. But the screenplay has a bracing tincture of Grand Guignol, and nothing is simple when the two women are played by a couple of superlative actresses who clearly delight in one another.

  • See all Notes on a Scandal reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Dark tale of betrayal and fixation isn't for kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this adult-targeted drama (which probably won't have much appeal for teens anyway) features mature themes and some sexual imagery. Specifically, a female teacher, Sheba, has sex with her 15-year-old male student, and the footage is fairly explicit (heavy breathing and rolling on ground; the teacher in her bra, kneeling and touching the boy's torso). The movie's other predominant sexual theme concerns a fellow female teacher's crush on Sheba, which inspires amorous dreams and comments in her diary, as well as some social machinations (she betrays a friend, spreads rumors, and judges her peers). Boys fight at school; the teachers fight, too (slapping and pushing). Characters drink beer, wine, and liquor (in a flashback, Sheba drinks beer with the student) and smoke cigarettes. Language includes some 15 uses of "f--k," plus "s--t" and "arse," in addition to some name-calling ("fatty," "pig," "tart," etc.).

  • Families can talk about relationships between teachers and students. How does Sheba cross the accepted boundaries? How does telling her story from Barbara's perspective affect the film? How might Sheba, Steven, or other characters see events and individuals differently? Does Sheba's life at home affect how you feel about her and what she does? How?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: A teacher has an affair with her 15-year-old student; an older teacher manipulates the younger teacher -- both betray each another and those around them; both are also self-deluding, though one comes to understand herself more deeply.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Fighting between two male students; Steven's mother slaps Sheba; hectic scene with press "thronging" Sheba outside her home (she cries, the camerawork is frantic); Barbara and Sheba fight (slapping, falling into furniture, crying).

  • sex false5

    Sex: Sheba and Steven appear partly unclothed (most images are discreet or dark, but plain about their sexual acts) in a couple of scenes; some cleavage shots; some kissing; sexual slang, allusions, and references ("wank mags," "porno," "c--t," "t-ts," "dick," "f--k"). A major storyline is one female character's obssessive crush on another.

  • language false3

    Language: At least 15 uses of "f--k," as well as other language, like "s--t," "hell," "bollocks," "bastard," and sexual slang (including "dick," "t--s," and "c--t"); some name-calling ("fatty," granny," "pig," "tart"), as well as some Britishisms ("wank," "arse," "sod-all").

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Nokia cell phone.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters drink (wine and beer) on multiple occasions, sometimes to drunkenness; Barbara smokes cigarettes repeatedly; Steven smokes a few times; a girl (Sheba's stepdaughter) smokes once; reference to "crack cocaine" background characters smoke and drink in bars.