Starring: Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, and Mark Strong
Director: Todd Field
One minimalist description of film is "a series of conversations," which may be the most apt way to describe Tár. The early portions work like acts in a play, consisting of Cate Blanchett performing some expertly written dialogue in extended scenes. It's odd to consider recent work from someone with as storied a career as Blanchett to be her best work, but it's certainly in the conversation. Her performance is so airtight that it was enough to make me search out whether Lydia Tár was a real person. Sadly, her showing here wasn’t enough to warrant the near three-hour runtime. It’s so unnecessary.
A ferocious return to theaters for director Todd Field, Tár is a magnificent rendering of speech, atmosphere, performance, and power…and what happens to all of them in the face of a public scandal. Cate Blanchett commands the screen in a career-best performance as Lydia Tár, and a pin-sharp script pokes at precisely who she is, both as a larger-than-life artist and citizen of the world, if the two can even be separated. Every shot is meticulously composed, every edit near-expertly placed, and classical music fans especially will have a field day with all the film’s many references and revisitations.
I couldn’t get enough of Tár. I already loved how writer/director Todd Field writes, and the dialogue in this movie is just so snappy and engaging. There is a brilliant tracking shot early on that is so well done that I was in awe. The whole movie is well done, to be honest. It’s extremely dialogue heavy, yet the almost 3-hour runtime zooms by because Cate Blanchett is so absurdly fantastic. She imbues the character with amazing nuance, leading to a captivating performance. Admittedly, the ending is abrupt, so it felt kinda anticlimactic, but it still nailed the film's themes of fame and power masterfully.
I'll give you three good reasons to see Tár: Cate Blanchett, Cate Blanchett, and Cate Blanchett. Tár dives into the dynamics of power and the psychological tendencies of someone who is at the peak of their profession, and Todd Field hasn’t missed a beat as he returns to the director’s chair for the first time in over a decade. But at the center of his story is Blanchett, and this is her film from the opening scene to when the credits finally roll. While some may find the film to be too long, it's never dull thanks to Blanchett's Oscar-worthy performance.
This film was reviewed by Jacob as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2022 New York Film Festival.