October 12, 2022

Todd Field Returns with Spectacular Drama “TÁR” (Review)

2022 is the year of triumphant returns for your favorite directors. Guillermo del Toro, Steven Spielberg, Martin McDonagh, Sarah Polley, Noah Baumbach, James Cameron, Damien Chazelle and more have new features debuting within the next two and a half months, with many of them releasing their first movies in years.

Image courtesy of Focus Features

None of them have writer/director Todd Field beat. This past weekend, he unleashed ferocious psychological drama
TÁR, his first film in sixteen years (since 2006’s Little Children) upon the world — and what a return to the filmmaking landscape this is.

TÁR is a pseudo-biopic, presenting us right off the bat with a comprehensive biography of an entirely fictional figure. This is the titular Lydia Tár — played by past and future Oscar winner Cate Blanchett — who is, among many other things, one of the greatest living composers, a mentee of Leonard Bernstein, an EGOT, and the very first female conductor of a major German orchestra. This history is necessary, because TÁR is a character study, putting us into Lydia’s head while not making her a completely sympathetic character.

Image courtesy of Focus Features

We meet Lydia Tár at the height of her career. She’s about to conduct the piéce de résistance of a long in-progress orchestral series, she has a new book on the road to release, and she’s hired exciting new talent for her orchestra in Berlin. But in life, we must be prepared for the unexpected, and Lydia clearly is not — all of a sudden, a potentially career-ending scandal rears its ugly head, and Lydia is forced to navigate it in addition to maintaining her increasingly fraught marriage.

Though every aspect of TÁR is meticulous and engaging, nothing is more grounding than Cate Blanchett. There is not a moment when she isn’t on-screen, and she carries with her a natural confidence that both befits the character and her status as one of the best and most recognizable working actresses. Best of all, she makes Lydia Tár feel like a real person. The film itself doesn’t tell us how we should feel about her, as new evidence constantly presented about potential wrongdoings is compounded with moments of genuine human warmth and emotion. This isn’t about a perfect woman or a horrible woman — like all things in life, it’s complicated. Even by the end, I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to like her, which I believe makes Lydia Tár one of the more compelling film protagonists of recent years. The truth is, none of us are innocent, nor are we one hundred percent evil. This is the movie we could have gotten if J.K. Simmons was the main character of Whiplash.

Image courtesy of Focus Features

is a bizarre, fascinating introspective portrait of a scarily lifelike figure that delights in playing with the unreal. It has everything and nothing to say about morality and cancel culture, with a pointed focus on the abstract which made for a dreamlike experience. Every single note of music is diegetic, which only allows the film to fall further into the mesmerizing depths of its own enthralling symphony.

TÁR is playing now in select theaters, and will have a wide release on October 28.

No comments:

Post a Comment