Rating: 4 out of 5.

(Written by Intern, Amanda Davidowski)

Although Whiplash is a completely different film, TÁR is what Whiplash would have been if it followed the J.K. Simmons character rather than that of Miles Teller. The conductors in both are highly regarded and well respected, but have their issues. TÁR captures a portrait of a problematic artist struggling with her personal and professional life. Writer/director Todd Field articulates a compelling tale of the downfall of someone who once had it all.

Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) is a world renowned classical music composer and maestra. She has conducted for the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic. Tár is one of the only EGOTs in the world, winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, as well as a Tony award. She is currently the principal conductor in Berlin, where she lives with her partner, Sharon (Nina Hoss), and adopted daughter, Petra (Mila Bogojevic). She is in the process of writing her newest work. Tár is at the height of her career. Everything seems perfect, until the world around Lydia starts to crack as her past catches up to her.

All good things must come to an end, and in the case of Lydia Tár that would be her career. As someone who thinks she is above everyone else, it is easy to see why the people closest to her have their grievances. She undermines her assistant, Francesca (Noémie Merlant), and gaslights Sharon about her attraction to cellist Olga (Sophie Kauer). She puts her desires and career first, not caring about the aftermath of her actions. As Sharon eloquently puts it, all of Tár’s relationships are “transactional”, except for the one with their daughter. She blames everyone else for her shortcomings instead of looking inward.

Blanchett gives one of the best performances of her career in TÁR. She embodies her character so well to the point where it is easy to forget she is acting. Although Lydia Tár is a fictional character, Blanchett’s performance brings her to life. In a generation where unexpected accusations are coming to light about notable celebrities, she perfectly portrays real life abusers who get exposed for their disgusting behavior. Blanchett embodies this persona of someone on top of the world that thinks they can do no wrong. Field gives the audience an inside look into the life of Lydia Tár. All sides are revealed, and there is nothing she can hide. She is confident, manipulative, and pretentious, yet there is something about her that makes it hard to look away.

I can see why Todd Field specifically wrote this film for Blanchett. If it was done with anyone else, TÁR wouldn’t have had the same effect. A multitude of scenes that are done in one shot beautifully showcase Blanchett’s talent. It is not easy for most actors to perform such long sequences in one take, but for Blanchett it comes like second nature. The music is also stunning, and watching her conduct is even more captivating. It is as if Blanchett was born for this role.

Despite how great TÁR is, it easily could have been shortened. However, the long scenes serve a purpose for the greater arc of the story. Field does an excellent job foreshadowing and planting tools he utilizes later. The smallest details pay off in a big way. Everything about TÁR works in harmony to create this commentary about how easy it is to fall from the top, and reminds us that one cannot escape your past. TÁR is easily going to receive a few Oscar nominations, and potentially another Oscar win for Blanchett.

TÁR breaks out into theaters on Friday, October 7th.

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