Notes on a Scandal (film)

2006 film directed by Richard Eyre

Notes on a Scandal is a 2006 film about a veteran high school teacher who befriends a younger art teacher, who is having an affair with one of her 15-year-old students. However, her intentions with this new "friend" also go well beyond platonic friendship.

Directed by Richard Eyre. Written by Patrick Marber, based on the novel by Zoë Heller.
Loneliness can turn one into a monster. (taglines)

Barbara Covett

  • [[voiceover, while writing in her diary] People trust me with their secrets. But who do I trust with mine? You, only you.
  • [voiceover] When I was young I had such a vision of myself. I dreamed I'd be someone to be reckoned with, you know, in the world. But one learns one's scale. I've such a dread of ending my days alone. But recently, I've allowed myself to think that I may not be. Am I wrong?
  • [voiceover] Here come the local pubescent proles. The future plumbers, shop assistants, and doubtless the odd terrorist too. In the old days, we confiscated cigarettes and wank mags. Now it's knives and crack cocaine. And they call it progress.
  • [voiceover, after Sheba has confessed her affair] And then I realised my fury had blinded me. There was a magnificent opportunity here. With stealth, I might secure the prize long-term, forever in my debt. I could gain everything by doing nothing.
  • [voiceover] As my mother would have said, the boy done her like a kipper. She has nowhere to turn but trusty old Bar. She mopes and mourns for her pubescent paramour, but she knows my interventions have saved her life. And she is sweetly grateful. Her betrayal hurt me more than I dare show. But I will forgive her and heal myself in private. She's worth it, this one. She's the one I've waited for. She's beginning to understand that her dalliance with Master Connolly was a consequence of her dead marriage. It's a sham, fueled only by the memory of former glories. I mean, the wonderful thing about Polly- Whereas we are going through the fire forging our friendship with a stronger bond each day. In fact, we are now entering a delicate new phase. We are silently and stealthily negotiating the terms of a life lived together. Now more than ever we are bound by the secrets we share.
  • [voiceover] People languish for years with partners who are clearly from another planet. We want so much to believe that we've found our other. It takes courage to recognise the real as opposed to the convenient. We want so much to believe that we've found our other. Takes courage to recognize the real as opposed to the convenient. When I was young I had such a vision of myself. I dreamed I'd be someone to be reckoned with, you know, in the world. But one learns one's scale. I've such a dread of ending my days alone. But recently, I've allowed myself to think that I may not be. Am I wrong?
  • [voiceover] Judas had the grace to hang himself. But only according to Matthew the most sentimental of the Apostles. Is this the last night of her old life? I wonder how long my messenger will take. Thank you. People like Sheba think they know what it is to be lonely. But of the drip, drip of the long-haul, no-end-in-sight solitude, they know nothing. What it's like to construct an entire weekend around a visit to the launderette. Or to be so chronically untouched that the accidental brush of a bus conductor's hand sends a jolt of longing straight to your groin. Of this, Sheba and her like have no clue.
  • [voiceover] This last month has been the most delicious time of my life. Of course we have had our ups and downs. The pressure is intense when two women share their lives. But, oh, but what marvelous intensity it is! Circumstances are not always ideal. The swinish press, the stringent bail terms, meetings with lawyers and so on. But all things considered, we're coping admirably. In fact, gold stars abundant. The cuckold permits her to see their children once a week. Thee are usually tears and fits of teenage tantrums, too. In time she'll recognise she's just not the mothering kind, and then Barbara will be there to comfort her. Nurse, beloved friend and wise counsel.

Sheba Hart

  • [to Barbara] This is going to sound sick, but something in me felt... entitled. You know, I've been good all my adult life. I've been a decent wife, a dutiful mother coping with Ben. This voice inside me kept saying "why shouldn't you be bad, why shouldn't you transgress? I mean, you've earned the right."

Richard Hart

  • [to Sheba] I knew who you were when we met. You were young. I knew it might get tough, but I was prepared. You're a good mother, but at times you've been a fucking lousy wife. Why didn't you come to me? You could have told me how lonely you were. You never trusted me to help you. I'm not saying I was so fucking fabulous, but I was here.


Sheba Hart: When you started teaching, didn't you want to give them a real education to help overcome... the poverty of their backgrounds?
Barbara Covett: Oh yes, of course. But one soon learns that teaching is crowd control. We're a branch of the social services.
Sue Hodge: Console yourself with the gems. That's when it's satisfying. Then you can make a real difference.
Barbara Covett: The rest is just cattle-prod and pray.

Sheba Hart: I hadn't been pursued like this for years... I knew it was wrong, and immoral, and completely ridiculous, but, I don't know. I just allowed it to happen.
Barbara Covett: The boy is fifteen!
Sheba Hart: But he's quite mature for his age!

Barbara Covett: Well, that's when you should've stopped it.
Sheba Hart: I did! I told him I wouldn't teach him any more. But he refused to accept it, he just kept coming back. It began to feel like our secret, and well, secrets can be... seductive.

Richard Hart: Excuse me. Could one of you tell me what's going on? Is this some kind of coven?
Barbara Covett: I can explain perfectly. Would you like me to?
Sheba Hart: No. It's just that Barbara's had some very bad news about her cat.
Richard Hart: My condolences. Poor, poor pussy. Can I have my wife back, please?
Barbara Covett: I don't like your tone.
Richard Hart: Why is she always here? What kind of fucking spell has she cast on you?

Barbara Covett: [voiceover] By the time I took my seat in the Gods, the opera was well into its final act.
Richard Hart: You're his teacher!
Sheba Hart: And you were mine! I'm not justifying. I'm not trying to justify it...
Richard Hart: You are so full of shit! It's totally different. You were twenty!
Sheba Hart: He's sixteen in May. He's not some innocent...
Richard Hart: Of course he's innocent! He's fucking fifteen! Are you insane? If you meant to destroy us, why not do it with an adult? That's the convention, it's worked for centuries!

Sheba Hart: What you say about me, about Richard - you're not fit to shine his shoes. And Ben, and Polly, that I'd be happier without them. Why did you do it? [slaps Barbara] Because I didn't help you collect your cat? [slaps Barbara again] You've cost me my family!
Barbara Covett: No, no, take some responsibility! I gave you EXACTLY what you wanted! You'd still be stuck in that marriage without me.
Sheba Hart: What?
Barbara Covett: You can't accept it yet, but...
Sheba Hart: You think I wanted to be here with you?
Barbara Covett: You need me, I'm your friend!
Sheba Hart: You put me in prison, I could get TWO years!
Barbara Covett: They'll fly by! I'll visit you every week! We've so much life to live together!
Sheba Hart: You think this is a love affair? A relationship? What, sticky gold stars, and - and a strand of my hair? And a receipt from Pizza Express? It's a flat in the Archway Road and you think you're Virginia frigging Woolf! And where did you get my hair? Did you pluck it from the bath with some special fucking tweezers?
Barbara Covett: You know it's rude to read a person's diary, it's private!
Sheba Hart: We're not companions! We're not friends! You don't even like me!
Barbara Covett: That's not true, I only have tender feelings for you, only love!
Sheba Hart: You're barking, fucking mad. You don't know how to love. You have never, your whole life. Me, Jennifer Dodd. You're nothing but waste and disappointment! You bitter old virgin. You're lonely for a reason. They loathed you at school, all of them. I was the idiot who bothered, but only because no one told me you're a fucking vampire! So what is it, Bar? You want to roll around the floor like lovers? You want to fuck me, Barbara?
Barbara Covett: Please don't diminish our...
Sheba Hart: Our WHAT? What?
Barbara Covett: Give it back. I know you! Selfish and vain, you think you have a divine right! You don't belong in the world, you belong here! You big baby!


  • Loneliness can turn one into a monster.
  • One Woman's Mistake Is Another's Opportunity...
  • One woman's secret is another woman's power. One woman's fear is another woman's weapon. One woman's life is in another woman's hands....


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