TÁR–starring Cate Blanchett in an Oscar-worthy role–is a film that has a lot to say about holding people accountable for their actions.
The basic gist of the film is that Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) is the groundbreaking conductor of a major German orchestra. When we first meet her, she’s sitting down in conversation with Adam Gopnik during The New Yorker Festival for way longer than other filmmakers would allow. The EGOT winner is essentially living the life as she’s launching a new book and prepping a performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. She also started up the Accordion Conducting Fellowship–providing opportunities for female conductors–with some help from investment banker and amateur conductor Eliot Kaplan (Mark Strong). But as everything ensues, life has a way of kicking her in the tuchas when allegations come out. As a result, the film turns into commentary on what it means to have any sort of power in this day and age.
She currently lives in Berlin with concertmaster Sharon Goodnow (Nina Hoss) and their adopted daughter Petra (Mila Bogojevic). The composer remains close with her own mentor, Andris Davis (Julian Glover), while also mentoring her own assistant, Francesca Lentini (Noémie Merlant). Meanwhile, her own undoing comes as a result of seeing herself in a Russian cellist, Olga Metkina (Sophie Kauer).
Anybody can make a film that examines the power dynamics. This one just happens to be set in the world of classical music. Is it a democracy or an autocracy? The film unravels into something else during its second half. It’s certainly a film that will not be for everyone but to each their own.
Listen, I’ve been discussing this for a long time. We need to reframe how we discuss holding people accountable for their actions. I cannot stress this enough when it comes to the use of “cancel culture.” More often than not, the people not wanting to be held accountable are the ones to use the phrase. And now, we have a film that comments on accountability culture as I call it. What makes TÁR so fascinating in its approach is society deems her guilty from the start. Is she guilty or innocent? She professes her innocence and says that the video was edited. Also, if it’s a tech-free zone, who brought their phone into the room to begin with? So much to sit down and ponder about.
What surprises me on my first viewing is how Jewish the film is in nature. Lydia Tár is not a Jewish composer but she sure uses a lot of Hebrew and Yiddish terms! In any event, Blanchett is absolutely perfect for the role. The film runs super long at over two and a half hours but it earns the right. I do wish I had the opportunity to watch it on the big screen. Watching any film with the watermark in the dead center of the screen is less than ideal. An unfortunate side effect of the pandemic is AMC opening later than I prefer. As such, theatrical screenings just did not work with my schedule. I was out of town for the first press screening and the other two were on Jewish holidays.
Cate Blanchett puts on a showcase performance in TÁR.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Todd Field
CAST: Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, and Mark Strong
Focus Features released TÁR in theaters on October 8, 2022. Grade: 4/5
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