Saw this at the Davis yesterday, and marveled at how Judi Dench is so consistently, spectacularly, mesmerizing. A single economical glance, a movement of her hand, a slight turning of her head, and the smallest scene becomes loaded with meaning and suspense. I worship her.
I also realized, sitting there, that this was the second day in a row that I was watching a story about a female schoolteacher having a sexual affair with a minor boy. In both stories, the boy was a sexually precocious aggressor, and in this movie, one does not get the feeling that anything particularly sordid is happening, given the boy's obvious lack of naivete. (I recognize the dangers of posting this sentiment online, but rest assured I have no plans to troll the local high school.)
Before the Mary Kay LeTourneau musical, Beth was telling the MKL story to the couple that joined us. I watched the distaste on their faces and heard myself say, "you know, I'd like to be repulsed, but I imagine there's something very seductive about a yound, post-pubescent boy being so aggressive in pursuing you, and so direct in his affection. There's no ambiguity, no mind games, no letting you dangle in a web of mixed messages. Think about it: how much baggage can they possibly have?"
(As an aside, Notes on a Scandal does suggest that even young boys can be self-centered jerks, so there's no silver bullet there.)
Beth got what I meant; the other people didn't, I suspect. Then again, they're not the kind of couple that conjures up images of passsion. They'd just gotten engaged, and I got the feeling there was no more excitement attached to it for them than buying a loaf of bread at the corner store.
"I predict that ten years down the road she'll wish she had an ardent teenage art student in her life," I said to Beth on the way home.