Tár, total brilliance from Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett in Tár.

Tár is 2 hours and 38 minutes of watching Cate Blanchett be brilliant as the first ever woman director of the Berlin Orchestra, Lydia Tár. Lydia was also a woman who used her power to seduce the young women who caught her interest.

Tár contained no exposition. It was strictly moments in Lydia’s life. She was consumed by music, she was a brilliant conductor. She could speak extemporaneously about music in a learned way. She was a writer. She was running an orchestra.

Nina Hoss in Tár

Her life partner was Sharon Goodnow (Nina Hoss). They had a daughter. Sharon was the first violinist with the Berlin Orchestra, a powerful woman in her own right. She understood Lydia, saw what she was doing with women under her power. She didn’t so much condone it as she tolerated it.

Noémie Merlant in Tár

When the story begins, Lydia’s assistant Francesca (Noémie Merlant) keeps mentioning someone named Krista Taylor (Sydney Lemmon). There are emails from Krista, or emails about Krista. What should she reply, what should she do? Lydia tells her to delete all her correspondence with Krista and she goes into her own computer to delete her own emails. Those emails were warning other orchestras not to hire Krista. As the facts unfolded, it became clear she had used her power over Krista to seduce her and then reject her.

There are lawsuits and inquiries. The Krista problem grows beyond control. Francesca quits and becomes a whistleblower. Lydia is in a lot of trouble, public trouble.

Sophie Kauer in Tár

Lydia, however, can’t stop herself from doing it again when she meets a new cellist Olga Metkina (Sophie Kauer).

Her life crumbles around her until she ends up in the most humble of places. She’s broken but she still responds to music.

Lydia was not a likeable woman in many ways. We’re not supposed to like sexual abusers and she definitely was one. It really makes you think about the power dynamics in certain systems when the perpetrator of the crimes is a woman and not a man.

There were many fascinating aspects to this movie. The orchestra was real musicians, playing live. Cate Blanchett was really conducting, really playing the piano. The scene of Lydia teaching at Juilliard, which contained a tremendous amount of difficult dialog, was shot all in one long take.

Even at its extraordinary length, Tár was a series of moments that the viewer had to piece together. Lydia knew what was going on in her life, but the viewers were busy stitching the strands together on their own.

The main thing I took from this film written and directed by Todd Field was amazement at Cate Blanchett’s brilliant performance. She was astonishing. It isn’t the kind of film that makes you happy, but it sure will impress you. As a character study, Tár nailed it.

The film is now available on Peacock with a subscription. It can be rented from several streamers, and it might still be in theaters.

3 thoughts on “Tár, total brilliance from Cate Blanchett”

  1. I wanted to read what you had to say about Cate Blanchett but your site prevents that. Too bad I enjoy reading what you have to say.

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