Time: 158 Minutes
Age Rating: Offensive language & nudity
Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár
Noémie Merlant as Francesca Lentini
Nina Hoss as Sharon Goodnow
Sophie Kauer as Olga Metkina
Julian Glover as Andris Davis
Allan Corduner as Sebastian Brix
Mark Strong as Eliot Kaplan
Director: Todd Field
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.
Tár was yet another one of the most acclaimed movies of 2022 I had been hearing about for months which I had been meaning to see, focussing on a conductor played by Cate Blanchett and her eventual downfall. It more than lived up to all the acclaim.
The script is sharp and tight, very well crafted. As said earlier, Tár is a character study about an esteemed classical composer-conductor. The lead character Lydia Tar feels so lived in, to the point where she almost seems like its about a real composer (leading to some viewers to actually think that she is a real person). There are long stretches of people just talking, in fact the movie opens with a 10 minute interview with the lead character. At the same time, despite the large amount of dialogue, there isn’t a whole lot of exposition or immediate knowledge given to the audience to clarify what happened or to give context, requiring us to really pay attention to what is happening. There’s some surprising tension, and at points it plays like a thriller, especially in the back half of the movie. I did hear about this movie before watching it and a lot of people had hopped onto saying that it is about cancel culture. Having seen the movie though, I think that’s missing the point of the film. Tár is about ego, narcissism and hubris, and a fall from grace as a result of that. It really is one of the best and authentic portrayals of a downfall I’ve seen in a movie. Its a long film at 2 hours and 40 minutes long and it is slower paced for sure. When you hear the premise, you expect things to escalate quickly. However, it takes its time to slowly build the foundations before it all comes tumbling down. Still, I didn’t feel like it dragged and I was riveted from the beginning to the hilariously fitting ending.
Cate Blanchett plays the lead character of Lydia Tar and gives quite potentially the best performance of her career, which is saying a lot considering all the other fantastic performances she’s given. The character herself is compelling, with each scene revealing something about her. She’s in just about every scene of the movie, and Blanchett plays her perfectly, embodying every facet of her with ease. One of the best performances of the year. The other performances are great too. Nina Hoss, Noémie Merlant, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, and Mark Strong all do some really good work, even in their smaller parts.
I’m not familiar with Todd Field’s movies but I do know that his last movie Little Children was released all the way back in 2006. Tar is his return to directing, and his work here is outstanding. It is a gorgeous looking movie with a distinct visual style. The cinematography excels, bleak yet beautiful and with striking compositions, and the production design is stellar. The longer camera takes really help you get wrapped into the movie. Hildur Guðnadóttir composed the score, which is fantastic as expected.
Tár is one of the year’s best films. An incredibly well crafted character study, masterfully directed and with excellent acting, especially from Cate Blanchett, who gives one of her all-time best performances.