The international classical music world looking over the preparation of a famous conductor to record Mahler’s Fifth Symphony seems like a rare topic, for the high-class music enthusiasts. But Tár is an enthralling character study, its fine details stretching with needle-like precision into the dark recesses between its oblique scenes. The bottom line will be Cate Blanchett’s incredible performance – gentle, confident in herself and always slowly falling apart under pressure. But no less remarkable is the return of writer-director Todd Field to a massively crafted piece, 16 years after his last film.
Opening October 7 after fall festivals in Venice, Telluride and New York, the Focus Features release is an intimate portrait of an artist who owns her work, an exploration of transversal vitality. transparency of great music and clear consideration of cultural cancellation. While there will likely be heated comments questioning the right of a supposedly outspoken man to tell the story of a peculiar woman embroiled in allegations of sexual misconduct, sexism and abuse of power, but this is a film whose boldness, artistry, and expansive authority will put aside such concerns for many.
All reviews discuss Tár needs to deeply address those plot points, but in reality, this is a movie that benefits from knowing as little in advance as possible. That said, clues about the difficulties Blanchett’s character, Lydia Tár, is at, and the reckless behavior that got her there almost in the first place. And being aware of that won’t lessen the painful impact of her falling in love.
Actor and director Field emerged as a full-fledged filmmaking talent in 2001 with his first feature film, a brutal study of grief, In the bedroomestablishing an aptitude for psychological exploration and extracting stinging performances from his cast turned into his scathing survey of middle-class suburbs, Child. But his long-awaited third feature is something else entirely – a remarkable leap in maturity, control, and confidence to take risks at every step. Furthermore, they consistently pay off in a movie adaptation that feels like no other.
We first observe Lydia waiting in the wings, dressed in a stylish black androgynous suit and plain white shirt, her long hair pushed back from her face with a solemn solemnity. She practiced breathing before going on stage in Manhattan to New Yorkers Talk to staff writer Adam Gopnik (playing himself). This provides a brief biography of her lofty achievements in the field since her emergence as Leonard Bernstein’s nanny, culminating in her becoming the first female principal conductor of the band. Berliner Philharmoniker in 2013.
After breaking that glass ceiling and removing her distinction as a composer, she claims to have never encountered gender bias. She talks amusedly about the radicalism and joy Bernstein leads, and clearly shares that passion in her anticipation of the rehearsal’s exploration as she prepares to dig. delve into the mysteries of Mahler’s intentions with the number 5.
Lydia’s time is closely managed by her kind assistant, Francesca (Noémie Merlant), an aspiring conductor she has mentored. Francesca takes her to lunch with Eliot Kaplan (Mark Strong), the investor behind her Accordion Conduct Scholarship, designed to create opportunities for promising young women in the field. A young conductor herself, Eliot begs for a look at her score notations. “Do your own thing,” Lydia told him reluctantly. “There is no glory in being a robot.”
Robot thinking is a big deal for her, as she shows off in a Juilliard master class where she vaporizes a student – Max (Zethphan Smith-Gneist), who is identified as BIPOC pansexual – will come back to haunt her. When Max belittles Bach, claiming that male composers are not their hobby, Lydia explains that she is “a U-Haul lesbian” who nonetheless rejects her hobby according to anything but music. With brilliant eloquence, she dismisses the notion of valuing the artist over the artwork, telling the outraged Max, “The architect of your soul seems to be social media.” Noisy.
The thrill of that meeting is still in the air even as they travel by private jet back to Berlin, where Lydia lives with her partner, orchestra conductor and first violinist Sharon (Nina). Hoss), and their troubled adopted daughter, Petra (Mila Bogojevic). Lydia still maintains her old apartment, ostensibly to work in peace but she also seems to want to keep one leg unfettered.
Vague allusions made to the sexual relationships Lydia had with a number of younger women are sought after, possibly including Francesca, and Sharon’s tolerance for them, despite these claims. her own worries.
When Francesca mentions a desperate email from Accordion’s former colleague, Krista (Sylvia Flote), begging to see Lydia, it’s clearly not the first time. Growth with Krista, while initially seemingly something Lydia could manage, gradually pierced through her carefully constructed thin plank. The failure, coupled with her special interest in the talented Russian cellist Olga (Sophie Kauer), disrupts both her family life and her career. She is also an enemy of Sebastian (Allan Corduner), the longtime assistant conductor she has decided to “rotate” from, with Francesca among the possible candidates to take his place.
Field captures the minutiae of a very specific world, injecting excitement into Lydia and the orchestra’s progress with Mahler and anticipation surrounding her choice of companion piece for the record. its vocals and soloists. The “small favors” and compliments, pettiness, and sassy jealousy add to the appeal of a movie that pays close attention to processing in a very detailed creative environment. details.
Blanchett doesn’t care about the kind of concessions that might make us warm to Lydia. But she demanded, with full justification, that we respect this mysterious, morally flawed perfectionist, even if her handling of personal affairs is questionable. . In a similar way, musicians revere her despite a demeanor that is often more autocratic than the orchestra’s democratic principles.
Watching her thrash her limbs and ruffle her hair with electrical matter as she proceeded (there were visual sounds of Bernstein’s flamboyant style), pausing frequently to separate each accent and timbre, we witnessed her being consumed by her art, to a degree that at times seemed almost sexual. We also have a sense of arrogance that makes her feel sublimated by that passion, perhaps untouchable. The intense commitment of the performance is even more astounding when the final credits reveal that Blanchett – who learned German and piano for the role – played it all himself.
The Juilliard scene in which she sits down at the keyboard and guides Max through the overwhelming emotions Bach can create – conveyed through Blanchett’s ecstatic expressions, as well as her body language — just one of many insights into the undying power of the classical law to connect, emotionally, and psychologically.
Lydia never succumbed to her pride, even when she was exposed by scandal and many of her closest people left her. But Blanchett shows vulnerability with a unique pattern of injury not to be confused with fragility. She seems to be aware that power has fed her stupid decisions by making her feel free, even entitled, to spoil her to any will, and blatantly walk over her. boundaries between individuals and transactions. But whether she blames herself or not is yet to be discovered. It was a towering performance that demanded more from her than any on-screen role she’s taken on to date.
Blanchett is invaluable in supporting secondary roles. Merlant has made a stronger mark than any film since Portrait of a woman on fire. Francesca holds her card close to her chest, seemingly almost a monk in her dedication to Lydia and perhaps a little more in love with her. But she is also knowledgeable and careful, silently preparing a backup plan that may be motivated by a sense of morality or by resentment at her unfulfilled ambitions. Or both.
Hoss’ Sharon shows the strength that has helped Lydia solidify her position and is the necessary pillar to steer them past the public debuting years earlier as a famous lesbian couple in the male field ruling world. Small flashes of hurt, anger, or betrayal flash across her face, alerting to every nuance of her partner’s behavior, painfully indicating a relationship where the balance of trust is not. Equality.
Just as Hoss brings her skills as a violinist to this part, young cellist Sophie Kauer adds realism in her dramatic debut role as the gruff but poised Olga. nature. In fact, the selection of real orchestra members through the ranks makes this a bright depiction of an art that is rarely examined. And having seasoned pros like Corduner, Strong and Julian Glover as Lydia’s predecessor in Berlin makes the smaller roles all the more thrilling as well.
Cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister gives the film a sharp, edgy look that’s unfussy but often psychological in its works. Editor Monika Willi made the run, which lasted more than two and a half hours, breathless, but also passed with incredible strain. And composer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score (the name of whom is highly regarded among those whose work Tár once championed) offers subtle hints of the influences Lydia is hearing in her compositions. her own, elegantly interwoven with classical pieces – mainly Mahler and Elgar.
Tár marks another high point in Blanchett’s career – many would consider her to be the greatest – and fervent reason to hope that it won’t be another 16 years before Field brings us another feature. . It is a work of genius.