“Tar” Review: Cate Blanchett in Todd Field’s Master Conductor Drama

Written and directed by Todd Field, “Tar” tells the story of a world-famous symphony conductor played by Cate Blanchett. That’s no surprise at all. Field said he has only made two films so far, the first of which, the domestic revenge drama In the Bedroom (2001), was languid and torn. His second feature film, Little Children (2006), was a failure in my opinion, but his talent was all around.

But his first film in 16 years, The Tar, takes Toddfield to a new level. This movie is breathtaking — its drama, its clever innovation, its vision. This is a cold, intimate tale of art, desire, obsession, and power. It’s set in the world of modern classical music, and if that sounds a bit high-pitched (in a good way), the film takes us into that world in a very accurate, authentic and detailed way. Thriller immersion. The characters in “Tár” feel as real as if they were alive. (They are performed with richly-drawn perfection, down to the smallest role.) You believe in every moment the reality you see.

Blanchett will play one of the most celebrated conductors of the time, Lydia Tarr, in a performance destined to be a big presence in this awards season. The film opens with cryptic shots of her exchanging messages over text, gradually penetrating us as its meaning is revealed. It then enters an extended sequence in which Lydia is interviewed onstage by The New Yorker Adam Gopnik (who plays herself). Lydia is conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (among other prestigious positions) and has led the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for seven years. Her mentor was Leonard Bernstein, who pioneered her role as an American conductor as a larger-than-life figure, and Lydia, like Lenny, rivals her musical skills. It has the power of articulation.

With her astonishing eloquence and wit, her command is a manipulator of time itself, and how Gustav Mahler’s relationship with his wife Anna influenced the composition of Mahler’s deeply ominous and romantic Fifth Symphony. I’m talking about how you gave Recorded in Berlin. And Lydia answers questions about what it means for a woman to be a conductor — perhaps to our surprise, she treats (as in the film) it doesn’t matter at all, and the road was paved long ago. It explains what happened. As a novel act of sorts, she now occupies the privileged position of not needing to be defined by gender.

Blanchett’s performance strikes us as being a bit theatrical at first.she is almost declamation lines. But what we do recognize is that Lydia is performing herself, pitching her persona to New York swells and piecing together anecdotes with Pence she’s told dozens of times. Behind the scenes, she’s as passionate and spontaneous as she was feigned spontaneous in interviews. Like her gossipy lunch with Elliott (Mark Strong), she is the nerdy bureaucrat and part-time conductor who founded the Accordian. A fellowship, an organization devoted to the development and placement of aspiring young female conductors, or a whimsical exchange with Francesca (Noemie her Merlant) whom she enjoys, her charming and inferiority-feeling assistant is Lydia Multitask with dedication like a tertiary educator. Maintenance studio executive.

One of the attractions of “Tár” is the portrait of Lydia as a lofty paragon that has created itself as a kind of brand. She is a passionate scholar and brings the sheet music she conducts to life. She is an avid teacher and leads a masterclass at the Juilliard School in one of her exhilarating sequences, atonal music and identity with whiplash taunts designed to cut through her political piety. do. She is world-famous and understands that her conduct is a dictatorship, something she enforces within the protocol of the democratic socialism that supposedly rules the Berlin orchestra. increase. She’s a recording technician, a micromanager of the nuances of how her albums are made (down to her pose for the cover), a writer, and she’s called “Táron Tár I am about to publish a book on the coffee table called. And she’s de facto CEO, caught up in the office politics of managing a symphony staff, organizing benefit concerts, and building the formidable global reach that’s the cornerstone of her mystery.

Blanchett plays her with magnetic mood swings, with long straight hair that exudes Annie Leibovitz power vibes.German, her favorite composer’s language), and through it all, her supreme control-freak demeanor – the way she defends her idealism with a killer instinct. She’s definitely speaking for herself when she says she realized that any of us could commit murder. When performing the famous Prelude in C major from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, she I will explain Music in a way that is as moving as the music itself. She is trying to convince one of her students, who rejects Bach because of the “misogyny” of older white men, that such rejection is childish. The scene is designed to have us rooting for her art’s defense against the stons and arrows of cultural correctness, but ultimately her triumphant rhetoric contains her own unique of blowback is included.

In this scene and many others, Field’s script is striking in its dialogue flow, insider dexterity, and awareness of how world power really works. He created an elaborate and glamorous portrait of Lydia Tarr as a public figure, and when she returned to Berlin and walked into an incredibly luxurious designer’s home, she too had her own private life. I was a little shocked when I realized that. She is married to the Berliner Philharmoniker’s first violinist (played by the bright and sane Nina Hoss), and Lydia amusingly rescues a young girl from a mean-girl situation at school by talking her out. I have a daughter, Petra. The young bully in question has the perfect terrorist threat (“I’m Petra’s father…I’m going to get you”) so she realizes she can master politics in any situation I guess. Except one.

In “Tár,” Todd Field engages us in a tense, unfolding tale of quiet duplicity, corporate intrigue, and ultimately erotic obsession. Yet he does it so organically that for a while he doesn’t even realize he’s watching the “story.” But it’s a great story, isn’t it? You can’t hit overhead with telegraph arcs. Just like life, it creeps up on you. Field worked with cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister to shoot “Tar” to look like a documentary directed by Stanley Kubrick (with whom Field collaborated on “Eyes Wide Shut” when he was an actor). The compositions are naturalistic in a striking, icy-cool way, and what they represent is the nonchalant calculation that Lydia oversees every aspect of her being. Her personal life, her artistic career, and her domineering personality in her uplifting language are all in sync with each other so strongly that it could confuse this apple cart. I can’t even imagine.

Still, there is one aspect of Lydia’s life that she understandably keeps low. She’s not, in her way, an unconventional celebrity who treats sexual indulgence as something she’s licensed to do.In this case, some of that flavor comes from the world of classical music. . The reason Field suggests is that there is something in the sublime nature of this music that leads people to live each day as if joy were a sacred right in all realms.

As “Tár” tells most of its story through a sort of elliptical allusion, Lydia’s having a serial casual relationship with a young woman in orbit fulfills her hedonistic dream of entitlement. You have to read between the lines a bit to make sure that Many of them, like Francesca, were aspiring conductors and enthusiastic assistants. The way she does it, she’s grooming them. We notice the glances and sensual handshakes Lydia gives the affectionate young journalist interviewing her, and the way she clings to the orchestral virtuoso, the new Russian cellist (Sophie Cauer). Seeing in an old video that the cellist had mastered Elgar’s Cello Concerto as a teenager, she arranged for it to be the second piece in the Mahler programme. The whole audition process as if she hadn’t planned the outcome from the beginning.

The New Yorker interview audience also gets a glimpse of the female premonition that can only be seen from behind — a 25-year-old redhead named Christa, one of the accordion buddies with whom Lydia enjoyed a brief, intense relationship. . It’s revealed that Christa has stuck with her in her obsessive and volatile ways, and Lydia didn’t just let her loose. She personally campaigned against landing the position of conductor in the orchestra. But Christa can’t let her go—Lydia or her own demons. And this happens at the wrong time.

“Tar” is so cleverly constructed that the various situations Lydia deals with in the orchestra – like her plan to evict the co-conductor’s old mule Sebastian (Alan Corduner) – interlock in unexpected ways. Lydia frees Sebastian with icy efficiency, but that means Francesca thinks it’s time to step up and occupy the co-conductor slot. Declare that And that’s a big mistake. She expects Francesca’s loyalty to get rid of her message, the desperate and obvious email Christa sent the two of her. Why two? Because this fling was more sensually complex than her other office flings.

The film begins as a fascinating, brilliant, and difficult chronicle of an artist navigating a sea of ​​career drama. Then, just like that, it evolves into a different kind of movie — social media, the death of privacy, and a ruthless new public morality conspiring to turn someone into all their flaws (including some pretty gigantic ones). A study of what happens when confined.), up to the light. Lydia rides high, only to face the sight of a rapid tumble. In a way like the Greek tragedy of the days of YouTube and the New York Post, this is riveting. Near the end, there’s a jaw-dropping surprise moment that rivals Jackson’s peeing in Maine Grammy scene in 2018’s A Star Is Born.

But “Tár” also raises a fundamental problem. The issue will be hotly debated and debated as the film opens in his October and then heads into awards season. That question is where does the movie stand on the question of what happens to Lydia? I face that reality in the scene where I try to get a massage). But she’s also a great artist. You could say that the film has ambivalence, but in a haunting sense, the final judgment offered by “Tar” is more of a judgment than a statement in which you can make your own judgment. There is none. Here is the statement: we are in a new world. where people wear masks. And where the higher powers no longer rule.

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