By Heather Leszczewicz Special to Published Jan 12, 2007 at 5:25 AM

To expand on a novel that was amazing to begin with is a great feat. The movie adaptation of "Notes on a Scandal," brings author Zoë Heller's words to the big screen in a big way. The haunting tale of secret lusting has an all star cast and a wonderful script.

In the circle of life, it's not often that the prey will become its predator's predator only to become the prey of a different predator, but one woman finds herself in such a situation.

Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) just started a job as a pottery teacher at a British school and caught the eye of not one, but two people. One of her students, Steven Connolly (Andrew Simpson), has a small crush on her. He panders to her want for a student who shows promise in art and they begin to have after school private lessons.

Sheba has also caught the eye of an older History teacher, Barbara Covett (Judi Dench). Barbara is a loner, shuns all of her other co-workers, and only has a white cat and a journal as her friends. Barbara sees something in Sheba that she finds attractive, a light that no one else has around her. So she steadily watches her and finds a way to make a relationship.

As Sheba and Barbara's friendship grows, so does Sheba and Steven's. Steven makes the first move from becoming teacher and student to secret lovers. But they can only keep their illicit relations secret for so long, especially with Barbara around.

Barbara's jealousy rears its ugly head as she learns of the affair. But even with Sheba is with her family, Barbara's neediness gets in the way. And her feelings will lead her to do things that will ruin all those involved. The secret can only stay that way for so long and the affair gets out.

Heller's novel, "Notes on a Scandel: What Was She Thinking?," is engrossing and one of those page turners that's hard to put down. The movie version will suck you in just as easily.

However, the movie succeeds in bringing the story some closure. Heller left her story more opened ended with Barbara and Sheba still in the midst of the aftermath of the secret getting out. The movie goes farther into the future, there's still a sense of open-endedness but it's less questionable.

Dench and Blanchett were made for their roles. They have the ferocity needed to tackle a story of under-aged relations and friendships that somehow become more.

But Dench, always the perfect Dame, has the perfect role. Barbara craves attention. She continually discusses a past relationship with another woman and she believes that Sheba can take her place. Her manner goes from distant to creepily obsessive and, yet, she is able to remain distant from the entire situation. It takes the actress of Dench's caliber to have such a hold on screen.

Much of the movie is told through narration by Dench's character. Barbara works her way through the story, she's often depicted writing in a journal. "Notes on a Scandal" is supposed to feel like the audience is actually reading the journal which has gold stars on the days that were good, just like a teacher handing out stars to pupils.

Well, if "Notes on a Scandal" was one of Barbara's journal entries, it would absolutely need a gold star or four.

Heather Leszczewicz Special to

Originally from Des Plaines, Ill., Heather moved to Milwaukee to earn a B.A. in journalism from Marquette University. With a tongue-twisting last name like Leszczewicz, it's best to go into a career where people don't need to say your name often.

However, she's still sticking to some of her Illinoisan ways (she won't reform when it comes to things like pop, water fountain or ATM), though she's grown to enjoy her time in the Brew City.

Although her journalism career is still budding, Heather has had the chance for some once-in-a-lifetime interviews with celebrities like actor Vince Vaughn and actress Charlize Theron, director Cameron Crowe and singers Ben Kweller and Isaac Hanson of '90s brother boy band Hanson. 

Heather's a self-proclaimed workaholic but loves her entertainment. She's a real television and movie fanatic, book nerd, music junkie, coffee addict and pop culture aficionado.