Tár: a cross between celebratory biopic and necessary critique on cancel culture
Cate Blanchet’s performance in the fairly lengthy biopic Tár (two hours and forty minutes) is definitely Oscar-worthy but much of the content of the film does come across as redundant, particularly in the first half.
Directed by Todd Field, the finished product pays excellent attention to detail, and the storyline itself is fascinating in it being part psychological drama / part critique on cancel culture, but there are moments where you wish the director had just said ‘Cut’ earlier.
Lydia Tár is a music conductor and lecturer who takes her position so seriously, her ego has gotten in the way of clear judgement and all notions of sentiment.
Set in the international world of Western classical music, the film centers on Tár’s colourful life – from her quirks to her major successes. But then audiences are sucked into the downward spiral that is her demise.
Tár is the first female music director of the Berlin Philharmonic and is at the top of her game when things begin to become unstuck. You see, as a standout conductor, Lydia not only orchestrates, she manipulates – relationships at work and those in her private life.
Hers is a complicated story that results in a tragic quadrangle of demise: for she, her fulltime lover, former students and, quite frankly, the feminist cause.
Field breaks the rules of conventional screenwriting to give the film a kind of documentary style, with lengthy scenes of two-hander dialogue and lots of sombre undertones.
Blanchet’s Tár is hopelessly arrogant and self-accomplished and faces the two-punch dissonance of misogyny in a male-dominated industry (yes, the vast majority of music conductors are male) while being an abusive player in the relationship field herself (yes, women can be abusive to their students and loved ones).
Lydia literally wears the pants in the family, has a coffee mug with the word ‘Dad’ on it, but then she goes too far in deconstructing patriarchal archetypes by manipulating the women around her, namely for her own professional – and sexual – gain.
By the time the film ends with its nightmarish downfall – which explores the current theme of privileged elite abusing their power and receiving harsh comeuppance as a result of it – most audience members are left feeling exhausted.
Perhaps Field could have edited some parts of the film to make it easier on audiences when the story reaches its climactic end, but then you probably wouldn’t get the full dissonant effect he’d want you to feel.
Annette McCubbin & Antonino Tati
One Response to “Tár: a cross between celebratory biopic and necessary critique on cancel culture”
[…] divided in their opinion on every. big. film. – from Elvis to Babylon, The Fabelmans to Tár, it was virtually phenomenal to see indie movie Everything Everywhere All At Once take home every […]