Patrick Marber (Closer) adapts Zoë Heller’s dark, satirical novel for the screen, and the film directed by Richard Eyre (Stage Beauty), with a juicy Brit Pack cast. Judi Dench’s Barbara is a spinster history teacher at a London school who narrates the story with tart, dolorous wit. Captivated by a new art instructor, Sheba (a white-hot Cate Blanchett), whose wealth and beauty are a draught of nectar to her own drab existence, Barbara is flattered by Sheba’s friendliness and trust. When she discovers Sheba’s affair with a student, her moral outrage turns to narcissistic manipulation as she tries to conceal their secret. This is an original, unpredictable film, erotic and surprisingly intense. Too bad Philip Glass’s overwrought score thinks it’s a horror movie, but British cinema fans shouldn’t miss this one.
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