Movie-lovers are utterly spoiled for choice every fall season as studios release their biggest prestige films in advance of awards season, and 2022 is certainly no exception. The past few weeks have seen the release of some extraordinary movies with extraordinary stories to tell and extraordinary performances – and writer/director Todd Field’s TÁR is a title that fits the bill perfectly. Starring two-time Academy Award®-winner Cate Blanchett, it’s a stunning drama set in the world of Western classical music, and one of the most arresting releases we’ve seen thus far this year.
TÁR is Todd Field’s first film since the Oscar®-nominated LITTLE CHILDREN in 2006 starring Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson, and he penned the original screenplay himself. It unquestionably earns the distinction of being an AMC Artisan Film, and below are the reasons why it earns that special designation.
Brings a Unique Vision and Perspective
In the film, Cate Blanchett plays the titular Lydia Tár, who we meet at one of the busiest times of her career. She is a world famous composer, an EGOT winner, and preparing to finish a cycle of Mahler symphony recordings as the chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. She is professionally at peak… and comes to find it all starting to spin away from her amid accusations of misconduct.
The movie is a depiction of a genius in crisis, and it does a phenomenal job digging into the character’s psychology as she both tries to fortify her legacy and do everything in her power to stop everything she has from slipping away. Whether she is on the stand waving her baton in front of musicians, punching her stress away beating on a heavy bag at the gym, or experiencing vivid dreams, TÁR plants you firmly in the protagonist’s perspective, and it’s mesmerizing.
Pushes Boundaries and Sparks Conversation
Lydia Tár’s brain is not a particularly fun place to be while she is experiencing her professional and emotional crisis – but it is a powerful examination of modern culture holding the powerful accountable. Amid serious accusations from a former member of the fellowship program she co-runs, we watch Tár work with the musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic and guest teach a class at Juilliard and we’re not initially sure of what to make of the claims against her – and where Todd Field takes the story from there is both subtle and remarkable.
TÁR primarily plays as a drama – with serious stakes and intense developing character dynamics – but what only makes the experience richer is the fact that the film also finds moments to be laugh-out-loud funny. Lydia Tár is definitely a character with a dry wit and serious attitude, and Cate Blanchett showcases some spectacular comedic timing (you should particularly look forward to a scene where she pulls out an old accordion for a bit of revenge against neighbors who have made a noise complaint).
Stretches Actors Outside Their Comfort Zones
To be frank: does the concept of Cate Blanchett delivering a phenomenal performance really surprise anybody? She is one of modern Hollywood’s greatest actors – having stunned audiences in everything from ELIZABETH to LORD OF THE RINGS to CAROL – and what she does in TÁR only enhances her reputation as a brilliant, generational talent.
Blanchett is given the ultimate responsibility of being featured in every single scene of the film, and she stuns in the complicated role. Lydia Tár’s genius translates to an intensity that comes across as dynamic charisma… but can also at times be legitimately scary. She is perfectly believable as a composer who is a master of her craft, and it’s only all the more amazing to watch her effortlessly slip back and forth between English and German during rehearsal sessions.
Unites An Acclaimed Cast
TÁR doesn’t feature a full ensemble of A-listers, but after seeing what the supporting cast does, audiences will only hope to see more of their work in the future. Noémie Merlant, who earned critical acclaim for her work in PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE, is a standout as Francesca – an aspiring composer who works as Lydia Tár’s assistant and doesn’t see the job progressing her career in music as she has expected.
Equally excellent are Nina Hoss and Sophie Kauer in their respective roles as Sharon and Olga. The former is Lydia’s wife, who is taken on quite an emotional ride as a result of the titular composer’s scandal and disengagement in their relationship; and the latter is a young cello player from Russia to whom the protagonist takes a shine – much to the concern of both Sharon and Francesca. TÁR is unquestionably Cate Blanchett’s film, but they take their share of the spotlight.
Features A Compelling Score
Like Cate Blanchett doing stunning work, it’s probably not going to take anybody aback that TÁR, a film about a composer, features incredible music. Within the plot itself it’s fascinating to watch Lydia Tár do her work from the podium – listening to her musicians rehearse and making delicate changes in order to ensure that the performance is perfection – but Hildur Guðnadóttir (JOKER) adds drive and tension to the dark character study.
You can expect to be hearing a lot about TÁR in the weeks and months to come, so you should do yourself a favor and get ahead of the conversation. This AMC Artisan Film collection is now playing in AMC Theatres around the country, and you should purchase your ticket immediately.