Is Phillip Glass the new John Williams? Is minimalism the new sound of movie soundtracks? I'd be tickled to think so. Glass plays a very strange role in Notes on a Scandal, namely lending something that looks like class or gravitas to a story that, without his score, would be pulp. Pulp with marvellous acting, yeah. But in my mind, the movie comes closest to Baby Jane: it's two mammoth personalities who have agreed to a no-niceties roll in the mud.
Slight spoiler alert: I am kind of gratified that the old trope of the queer who tries to gets his/her tentacles on a straightnik has been subverted. I mean, we've come far enough that a homo villain is not an issue, because it's not a mainstream idea anymore that that's redundant. As long as you're able to be the good guy, even just the faintly mortifying snappy best friend, it's no longer such a trap to be the bad guy.
But in this film, it seems to me, the creepishness is embedded instead in the pathology of being closeted. People in the movie ask Judi Dench's character about someone who had been perceived as her former paramour and she snaps back she has no idea what they're talking about and these are the moments her psyche is most pointedly revealed, in its interface with society, as being non-functional. I can live with that. (And p.s., larger spoiler alert though if you've read any reviews, you know this: Cate Blanchett's character is boinking a 15-year-old so she's not exactly set up as the moral foil.)
Anyway the screenplay is for the most part without any particular point of view, but the thing speeds by and somehow you never feel dirty enjoying it. Maybe partly because of that soundtrack--it's by Phillip Glass! The guy that wrote that music you could put on in college to impress a date with how intellectual you were! Oh wait, that was only me! I'll be in my room if anyone needs me!