TAR (2022)

Genre: Drama
Director: Todd Field
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, Mark Strong
Runtime: 2 hrs 38 mins
Rating: M18 (Some Homosexual Content)
Released By: UIP
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 26 January 2023

Synopsis: From writer-producer-director Todd Field comes TÁR, starring Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár, the groundbreaking conductor of a major German Orchestra. We meet Tár at the height of her career, as she’s preparing both a book launch and much-anticipated live performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. Over the ensuing weeks her life begins to unravel in a singularly modern way. The result is a searing examination of power, and its impact and durability in today’s society. 

Movie Review:

This writer is ashamed to admit that he pretended to understand the intellectual talk that took place in the first few scenes of this film that received widespread crucial acclaim.

We first meet female conductor Lydia Tár at The New Yorker Festival, where she is interviewed by Adam Gopnik (the writer of The New Yorker magazine plays himself). The annual event is known to bring together prominent figures, so we know Tár is probably a who’s who in the arts scene. The two of them discuss profound topics and themes, and we know that Tár has a few exciting projects in the pipeline.

Then we see Tár having a business lunch with an investment banker who also dabbles in the arts as an amateur conductor. They talk about technical techniques and the business side of the music scene. After that, Tár teaches a class at the prestigious JulliardSchool, and the long take sees our protagonist challenging her students to appreciate music beyond superficiality. One particular student gets roasted rather badly in the process.

From the first three scenes, this reviewer almost believed that Tár is a real life figure, or at least based on someone in the arts scene. There is much of this character to admire, and as someone who believes that he can understand art, this writer’s mind was boggled by concepts and themes which the dialogues between Tár and her audiences. But how much he truly understands is, well, a doubt.

Then as the film progresses, we realise that the screenplay by Todd Field isn’t about the greatness of the arts. In fact, it illustrates how phoney (and shady, for that matter) things can be in the industry. Above all, it is an intimate and intense look at an individual’s rise and fall in today’s state of things (you can expect social media to f*** Tár up pretty badly).

It won't be the easiest movie for most viewers to sit through. The film’s runtime is 158 minutes, which means you’ll be stuck in your seat for more than two and a half hours if you are not the type who visits the washroom (or walks out of the theatre if you are bored) during a movie. If you are ready to be emotionally invested, the film is sinisterly captivating in most scenes. Without spoiling the film, get ready to see Tár grapple with her downfall and break into pieces. You aren’t sure whether to empathise, sympathise or laugh at her demise.

The actress in the spotlight is Cate Blanchett. Her performance is undeniably spectacular – it is easily the best in her already impressive filmography. For the demanding role, Blanchett learnt how to speak German, conduct an orchestra and play the piano. Technical skills aside, the actress puts on a fine display of emotions throughout the film to engage your senses. We do hope she clinches the Best Actress prize at the 95th Academy Awards, where the film is also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing.

This is only Field’s third directorial feature film (his last one was 2006’s Little Children), and it was reported that there were many unrealised projects over the 16 years. If every creative endeavour from the American filmmaker is as brilliant as this psychological drama, we hope that we won’t have to wait too long to be blown away by his next work.

Movie Rating:

(Be blown away by Cate Blanchett's riveting performance, then watch in amusement and horror as her character falls apart in this scathing yet relevant film)

Review by John Li

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