New to UK cinemas from Friday is the psychological drama, Tár. The movie – written and directed by Todd Field – stars Cate Blanchett, Nina Hoss, and Noémie Merlant, and tells the story of a world-famous composer-conductor, and her fall from grace.
In the movie, Lydia Tár is the chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra. She is considered one of the leading names in her field, with a long list of accomplishments and accreditations to back up her position.
But for all her achievements, Lydia is not the easiest person to be around. She ridicules one of her students in front of his peers, there is a suggestion she blacklisted another conductor following an affair, and she has little interest in her elderly, chronically ill neighbour.
Over time, issues surrounding Lydia’s questionable character begin to surface, and her position within the orchestra faces challenges. She also suffers difficulties at home, with problems arising in her marriage.
Now, before I go any further, I should point out that although Tár is brand-new to the UK this week, the movie debuted in September last year at the Venice International Film Festival, before opening in the US back in October. Since then, the movie has received rave reviews, appeared on many lists of the ‘best films of 2022’, and to date has been nominated for 75 awards (and counting).
Of those 75 award nominations, Tár has won 14 awards, including one Golden Globe, which it picked up earlier this week. The award went to lead star Cate Blanchett, who won in the category of ‘Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama’.
I’m telling you all this because Tár is considered by many critics to be an outstanding film. And while I don’t tend to highlight what other critics think about movies (as I don’t read many reviews), I think it is important to point out this film is considered to be a big hit amongst critics.
I’m telling you all this because I’m about to go against the grain here and say that I didn’t care for Tár. There are aspects of the film which I believe are a triumph, and I understand why the movie has attracted some of its praise, but on the whole, Tár did not work for me.
I found Tár to be a little snooty, uninteresting, and at times thunderously boring. During parts of the film I could feel myself becoming disconnected from the story, towards the end I was disappointed that I had invested so much time in it, and ultimately I came away from the picture feeling rather apathetic.
In terms of the story, there were dashes of gold here and there, including a discussion about cancel culture, and an amusing reaction to Lydia’s musical abilities, but at no point did I feel invested in what the picture was offering. I appreciate the film is set out as a character study, with small details and themes becoming significant in the grand scheme of things, but I can’t say I enjoyed what I watched, and if I’m spending over two-and-a-half hours on a film, I want to like what I see.
What I believe does work well in Tár is Cate Blanchett’s performance and this is something which is excellent. Blanchett eats, sleeps, and breaths the character of Lydia Tár, and she more than deserved her Golden Globe win.
Even when I struggled to connect with the material, I could still see the brilliance in what Blanchett brought to the screen. She is the movie’s biggest selling point, and she stole every inch of the film.
As for all the technical aspects of the film, Tár looks and sounds great, there are some carefully considered shots, some moments of symbolism, and every frame is perfectly polished. I can see why the film is receiving some of the praise it is, so at no point am I saying this is a bad picture – far from it (and no doubt it’ll win an Academy Award now).
But Tár simply isn’t for me and I’m not entirely convinced it will be for everyone else either. I feel this film is an acquired taste and if you don’t have the appetite for it, it is best left to those who want to indulge.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review on It’s A Stampede!. For more reviews, check out the recommended reads below.