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TÁR (2022)

Release Date: 10/28/22
Genre: Drama/Music

Studio: Focus Features

"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 first-ever female music director of a major German orchestra."


It's been sixteen years since Todd Field’s Little Children, the tragic and confounding sophomore film from his rapturous debut, 2001’s In the Bedroom. It's a stark reminder that some of the best directors only grace us with a new film now and then. With such long gaps between films, it's all the more relieving when the wait for a new one is worth it. Field’s third film, TÁR is a stirring character piece that plays your nerves and emotions like a violin, until the credits roll. 


Titled after its main character Lydia Tár, a composer with a list of awards and accolades long enough to make your head spin, Maestra to the Berlin Orchestra as well as many other projects you would expect a renowned and successful musical genius to be juggling at the same time. While extremely busy she still manages to have a family life with her partner Sharon Goodnow (Nina Hoss) and their daughter Petra. A difficult balance for most people yet Lydia manages to do it all somewhat well. As a character study, the film focuses on Lydia Tár and her life beginning from when the film opens until it ends; Functioning as a window, allowing the audience to peer into her life at a peak moment that slowly begins to spiral. The aspects of TÁR that work the best are when it's focused on Lydia and her challenges. As we watch Lydia do her day-to-day duties the film introduces subtle hints that something monumental is beginning to unravel and the film downplays it to the degree that Lydia herself does. Understanding the characters' thoughts and implosive actions through her perspective strengthens the impact of the eventual outcome. Poking fun at "cancel culture" with a fine pointed satirical needle as it threads its way seamlessly through its story; crescendoing to a mic drop of an ending. 


Character-driven narratives are at their best when the attention mainly involves building or enriching one, or a few, of the plot-centric character's motives and details. Equal to that important note is found within the film's lead performance and Cate Blanchett triumphs as the enigmatic Maestra. One of the film's opening scenes is a strong example of Blanchett's magnetic force, pulling the audience in immediately. Lydia is preparing to take to the stage to interview in front of an audience. The host lists off the astonishing achievements and awards Lydia has accomplished so far throughout her career as he calls her to take to the stage. The sharp writing of Field's script pierces through at this moment as Lydia sits and partakes in the interview, the dialogue is informative and brilliant but it's Blanchett's abilities on display in this scene, as Lydia answers and expounds on the questions in fierce succession with knowledge and ease, that commands your attention, and will leave you in awe of the actress's skill once again.

TÁR is as much a performance piece as one its subject herself would conduct, and that's where the film's genius lies, its pitch-perfect dark humor towards itself and its subject's hubris. As it stains or marks with the same fault or characteristic. Throughout its screen time, TÁR manages to strike several chords, with each causing more reverberations than the previous until they begin to screech and finally snap with a cartoonish sounding "tink" as the film ends on a stark ironic note that has become one of my all-time favorite film endings the more I think about the film. Todd Field has crafted an excellent film that stands firmly in line with his first two films, it's also one of the best movies of the year. As well as containing one of the best performances of this year. TÁR, much like the sticky substance, like it or not, will leave its impression on you.

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