Hello movie lovers! It’s Oscar day and I’ve managed to watch all the best picture nominees before the ceremony this evening. The last one on my list was Tár starring Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár. There will be spoilers in this review so if that is not music to your ears, watch the movie first and then come back here to read the review.
Lydia Tár is an award winning composer with a brilliant gift for conducting and finding new talent. She’s also a teacher at Juilliard and is working on the final touches of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic. Needless to say, she’s an extremely talented person.
Lydia is not without her faults, however. She shows favors to young women in her symphony much to the chagrin of her wife. Lydia has clearly carried out affairs with her assistant and some other women in the past. This all comes to a head when one of Lydia’s former Accordion fellows kills herself. Lydia does her best to cover up the affair with the help of her assistant Francesca. But then Lydia overlooks her assistant for a promotion and next thing she knows, Lydia is involved in lawsuits and accusations.
It’s clear even in the midst of all this, Lydia would not change her behavior as she flirts with a new and upcoming musician. No matter what she’s dedicated to her music and still has brilliant insights but she’s just maybe not the best person.
The film has a lot to say about power, who holds it, how they hang onto it, and what happens when those in power are held to account for their actions.
The reason to watch this movie can be summarized in one name here, Cate Blanchett. She gives an incredible and gripping performance as Lydia.
However, the movie is overly long, and while obviously the focus here needs to be on music, there were times it felt like the audience was being subjected to an entire course on music theory rather than observing a story. While this is meant to look like a true story, it is not. Lydia Tár was not a real person but there are obvious comparisons with people who have made incredible art but then done things in their lives where our respect for their talent may be lessened. There is a ton of technical jargon here and if you’re not someone who listens to classical music or really understands what goes into making it (guilty myself of this) then it can be a bit of drag.
The film really comes into its own towards the end as consequences start happening for Lydia. I will add that I was personally confused by the very end of the film but it’s just because I have never played the video game Monster Hunter and apparently it helps to know that game.
While I don’t think this was the best picture of 2022, I do think Cate Blanchett may have had the best performance. I think it will be a close call between her and Michelle Yeoh who would be equally as deserving.