“Set in the international world of Western classical music, the film centers on Lydia Tár, widely considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors and the very first female director of a major German orchestra.”

Director: Todd Field
Writer: Todd Field
Staring: Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant, Mark Strong
Rated: R
Release Date: October 28, 2022

When a well renowned and talented director takes 16 years off between projects, there is surely a lot expectations built up for their comeback. When arguably the most talented actress in the world attaches her talents to their long-awaited project, those hopes also rise even more.

Thankfully for the moviegoing public, Todd Field’s Tár (2022) is a triumph. The world building that Field does within a universe so often unexplored, compounded with the talent of Cate Blanchett playing the leading role, makes Tár a dramatic character study worth unfurling to its furthest degree.

Tár is one of the best movies released in 2022, and will rise in estimation as the years go forward. Todd Field and Blanchett make a viewing experience that is wholly original and demands that you spelunk into the mud of a complicated internationally successful composer.

Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) is a globally known orchestra composer. She is at the height of her powers leading the Berlin Philharmonic, and she is on the precipice of a massive career achievement with a live recording of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. As days before the performance begin to dwindle, the stress begins to mount. Tár becomes embroiled in numerous controversies, most of which, if not all, are of her own creations. Tár is is a pioneer in the space, therefore she had been sheltered from the normal side effects of her bullish behavior. But once the crescendo of controversy reaches a fever pitch, Tár struggles mentally, and physically, to escape the professional grave she dug herself.

Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár

Cate Blanchette is fucking unreal. Absolutely unreal. The seven time Oscar nominee and two-time Oscar winner is back in her bag being a fucking legend. Blanchette, in her first Oscar nominated roll since Carol (2015), fucking kills it as Lydia Tár. Right from the opening scene where she is monologuing in a perfectly charismatic yet condescending way. Chef’s kiss for establishing a character.

The ruthless of Tár is shown even more so when she asks her assistant to delete all correspondence with a former assistant who was a former puppet under her thumb. It is suggested that Tár used her power to coherence a quid-pro-quo type of sexual relationship, and when that went south…she just turned her head and told Lentini to as well.

All of this seems a bit too familiar…right?

Despite Tár being a totally reprehensible person, Blanchett somehow stamps a bit of pity on her. This is what fucking unreal acting is. Tár is someone who deserves no sympathy at all, but when her world is starting to crumble, you just know that there is nothing she can do to change to become a better person. And speaking for myself, there was a tiny bit of me that wanted her to own up to everything and figure it out.

For Tár, it is the music and herself. She has no adaptability. That is all. She likes all the eyes to be on her, which makes the ending symbolically perfect. If you have seen the movie, then you know. She may not be dead to the world, but her soul is crushed, as well as any of her prestigious achievements.

Tár is focused on music from the past, but the cultural touchstones the script touches on are obviously applicable in today’s society as well. It doesn’t take a great thinker to connect the dots between Tár and other successful people who have used their influence for unholy gains.This is where the the screenplay of Todd Fields comes into play because he does an exceptional job of keeping that commentary just simmering underneath the surface. It is there if you want to dig a bit deeper, but if you just want to enjoy Tár as a movie watching experience; then it still has more than enough for you to chew on.

This is where I can step on my soap box a little and proclaim my favorite part of the movie.

I fucking love watching Tár eviscerate a kid. Sure, it may be completely humiliating for that student. But can you just appreciate how scathing Tár’s comments are towards the idea of cancellation. You can disagree with her and hate her for what she is doing, but Tár has a mastery of being an absolute stone cold stubborn bitch. This speech here is really the ends justify the means, but delivered with a fuck ton pizzaz.

I also love the look of the room. The cinematography here is worthy of a nomination just itself. The framing of this argument physically, with Blanchett walking, standing, sitting, and pacing all around a cavernous space. We know that Tár loves herself, and she loves not only to hear her music, but also her voice. The room is meant for music, it is meant to amplify sound. However, the physical instruments being played on the stage are not echoing against the walls. It is only the sound of her voice, her opinions, and her viewpoints.

Noémie Merlant as Francesca Lentini.

I am not going to end my thoughts on Tár before acknowledging the most unsung part of the movie. Noémie Merlant plays the part of Tár’s original secretary, Francesca Lentini. Best known for her part in Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (2019), Lentini displays extreme internal struggle of working for a despicable human just because it is good for their career. She gets passed up for the promotion simply because Tár made it her business to have a younger protege. When she leaves, Tár shows her true colors. She mentions how so can start reading more emails and handling her own business. She just casts Lentini off the to side; not knowing that she would be dragging her as emotional baggage as her own public image begins to shatter. Who would have thought that having a personal assistant to help manage relationships and meetings leave would have a major impact on someone so single-minded.

Tár has been nominated for six Academy Awards: Best Actress (Cate Blanchett), Best Picture (Todd Field, Alexandra Milchan, Scott Lambert), Best Directing (Todd Field), Best Original Screenplay (Todd Field), Best Cinematography (Floran Hoffmeister) and best Film Editing (Monika Willi).

Among my own Academy Award nominations, I also have Tár garnering six nominations; Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress (Noémie Merlant), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay. I have Blanchett winning for her performance.

Tár is now streaming on Peacock.

STANKO RATING: A (4.5/5 Stars)

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