Run time: 158 mins
Todd Field’s delirious yet sensual psychodrama starring Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár – the orchestra conductor starting to unravel and unhinge – is an art-house odyssey.
It’s not required that we sympathise with Tàr; her talent is plain – she’s a protégée of Leonard Bernstein and is one of the few winners of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award – but she’s also cruel, manipulative, and abusive. She belittles and dismisses her own assistant (Noémie Merlant), simply because she’s grown bored of her. Slowly, allegations of misconduct start to surface, and her rivals (including Mark Strong’s amateur conductor Eliot Kaplan) leap into self-serving action.
Tár is essentially about our current moment, and all the whirlpools of discourse around #MeToo and cancel culture, but rarely in a way that feels like a pat on the back. It answers the question of “should we separate the art from the artist?” by laying bare how impossible a demand that is.
No one but Blanchett could have delivered the commanding arrogance necessary for portraying a great musician heading for a potential creative epiphany. It’s a career high in a career of highs. Give her the award already.