All the while, Eyre (who directed Dame Judi in Iris) frames close-ups of Dench’s eyes, those sprightly jewels, at once twinkling and seditious.
It is impossible not to watch, mesmerized, as Barbara delights in Sheba’s misery, even as she loves the young woman, undeniably.
In one hair-raising scene, Barbara quietly steals a single golden strand that has fallen to her lap from Sheba’s head.
Her theft (set against a score of stark strings, courtesy of the unimpeachable Philip Glass), is at first playful and seductive, but hints at the creepiness to come.
Drizzled with Oscar nominations (for Best Actress, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay and Score) Notes on a Scandal is nonetheless an art-house picture that will slip from the big screen to rental markets with hardly a murmur.