Cate Blanchett faces the music and conducts the troubling downfall of Lydia Tár


Joan Hernandez Mir

Blanchett at Cannes Film Festival

Writer-director Todd Field guides the viewer through an exciting and immersive experience of stardom and chaos, capturing the first female conductor of Berlin’s Philharmonic fall from grace. 

In Field’s imaginary world, Lydia Tár is an egocentric woman who has conducted orchestras in Cleveland, Boston, New York and Berlin, won the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) and is at the height of her career. When Tár faces a series of events jeopardizing her integrity, her mind unravels in an unusual way.

The film stars the two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett in a role that was handmade for her. Blanchett fantastically portrayed the complexity and nuances of a self-centered, toxic and odd woman in a great position of power. She gave an Oscar-deserving performance and possibly one of the best performances of her extensive career. It’s not hard to understand why “Tár” had a six-minute standing ovation at the 79th annual Venice International Film Festival.

German actress Nina Hoss gives a powerful performance as Tár’s supportive wife and a tremendous violinist of Berlin’s Philharmonic. Sophie Kauer, as Olga, also leaves the audience in awe with her talent playing the cello. 

Tár’s madness grows stronger throughout the movie, like a crescendo in a song. Sound design does a wonderful job with the strange noises Tár begins to hear, keeping the viewer engaged to see how she will react to those noises in each scene. 

While “Tár” revolves around the disgraced conductor’s psyche, the film also discusses the #MeToo movement from the perpetrator’s perspective. The legend Tár had her story erased by her transgressions when she was accused of misconduct by her pupils. 

The maestro is over-obsessed with control, and her podium is the place where she has total authority. When Tár is conducting an orchestra, Todd’s detailed and extraordinary direction skills make it feels like the audience is at one of her concerts at the Berlin Philharmonic without having to catch a plane to Germany.

Watching “Tár” is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is not a story with mind-blowing plot twists and a lot of action, but a one-way trip inside the dynamic composer’s mind. Blanchett gives an absolute masterclass in acting in a 158-minute psychological movie about a powerful, cruel and narcissistic genius who had it all and, at the same time, had nothing at all.

“Tár” is now in theaters.

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