Tár 2022 Movie Review
Director: Todd Field
Cinematographer: Florian Hoffmeister
Music: Hildur Guðnadóttir
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss
Streaming: Amazon Prime Video
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 first-ever female music director of a major German orchestra.
Before going into the review, I need to clarify a few things here – I don’t know anything about Western Classical Music ( but went to a few shows in Chennai – most of the time I slept).
So, after watching the film, I had a lot of doubts about the soundtrack, so, researched other reviews for me to understand the film, and I may repeat a few lines from other reviews.
Tár 2022 Movie Review:
Ms. Blanchett stars as Lydia Tar, a piano virtuoso, the conductor of the famed Berlin Orchestra, and a true musical genius. She’s a rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) from the classical field.
Her music (and her life) is a quest to uncover/discover what the composer meant with each piece. Lydia is sometimes rough on her wife Sharon (Nina Hoss) but frequently dotes on their young daughter … while otherwise living a relatively selfish and self-centered life.
We also see this true persona in how she treats her young assistant Francesca (Noemie Merlant), who quietly aspires to become a conductor, while efficiently keeping Lydia on track each day.
The film begins with “New Yorker” writer Adam Gopnik interviewing Lydia in a stage presentation in front of a live audience. It’s his introduction of the Maestra where we learn her background and the proficiency that has garnered her such respect (as well as jealousy and animosity).
Throughout the film, many real musicians (past and present) are referenced, and that detailed research is alone enough to earn respect for what Mr. Field has accomplished here.
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The stress and laser focus on Lydia as she prepares for the final symphony in her Mahler portfolio (his 5th). We witness the meticulous detail that goes into managing the music and musicians, and this leads to handling the dismissal of a veteran who is slipping, and the addition of a brilliant young cellist named Olga (Sophie Kauer). We are never quite sure if Lydia’s attraction to Olga is limited to her skills with the bow.
Of course, any perfectionist at the top of their industry is subject to backlash and criticism. Is Lydia abusive? Is she exploitative? It seems the answers may be affirmative, and likely what drives her art.
It’s quite discomforting to watch as she covers her tracks after the suicide of a former pupil, but I’ll admit to a certain feeling of satisfaction as she verbally spars with another student over gender semantics … actions that of course come back to bite her.
Ms. Blanchett is fascinating and mesmerizing to watch. She is at the top of her game playing a perfectionist who is at the top of her game. However, it’s clear this film isn’t likely to strike the right notes with mainstream audiences.
It’s an arthouse film about art, and thus is filled with dialogue and much less actual music than you might expect for a film about a world-class Orchestra conductor.
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At over 2-1/2 hours, the film is long but reasonable. There is a subplot showing a different part of her world collapsing on her. Move importantly, her character has time to develop to show that the accusation against her is credible.
There are mentions of real-world conductors being fired for sexual improprieties, but casting all-female principals nicely strips the gender differences away, leaving it to simply power and opportunity.
Tár is one of the best all-around films to surface this year and scores high marks in every filmmaking aspect. A riveting portrait of a powerful figure whose meticulously constructed world comes crashing down.
Field’s latest is impressive & immersive in ways not many stories manage to and the fact that it made many go looking for more information on Lydia Tár as if she is a real person proves what an outstanding job the cast & crew have done here. Strongly recommended.