Tár is as divisive as it is pretentious with its dissonance a metaphor for betrayal, revenge, and corruption.
Cate Blanchett stars as the titular, EGOT-winning conductor Lydia Tár, in a fictional biopic about cancel culture and the perceived invulnerability of those in austerity as directed by Todd Field.
With accusations surrounding her behaviour and favourability towards younger female performers, Tár is embroiled in complete character destruction, whilst she attempts to maintain composure and sensibility.
Similar to All About Eve, Tár is as much a tale of youth as it is about our everpresent desire to hold onto the present, in fear of losing the future.
Whilst critics will write, dissect, and examine every minutia of Tár, for general audiences, many will struggle to grasp in the first viewing exactly the nuances of Tár’s academia, dismissing it as a result.
With dialogue oozing with jargon and intellectual nonsense, Tár desperately tries to amaze and educate, when in truth, dumbfounds.
There is of course an exciting element of Tár, with its narrative clearly being a derivative of the #MeToo movement of recent years, and as such, Tár would easily fall into ambiguity if released years earlier.
Yet cancel culture is disappointingly handled. In a current era of post-cancel culture, where cynicism is beginning to root into the zeitgeist, deeming the act as toxic as those it attempts to call out, Tár slips into limbo, wishing initially for her downfall, only for us as an audience to question it with truths and accusations.
Her character, from a physical delivery by Blanchett, is unlikeable, admirable, and focused. Blanchett is fierce, triumphantly deliving a powerful detestable leading woman, one who instinctively confuses audiences as we have become engrained to support independent queer female individuals, yet our conflictions grow as Blanchett delivers every line and beat as if Tár is her score, and she is the maestro.
Yet, when Lydia’s life is infiltrated and manipulated by the digital landscape, over which she has no control, her unravelling commences. The battle of maintaining identity and self-image is Blanchett at her strongest.
Audiences are immediately made aware of this by the establishing shot of the film opening on a dozing Blanchett sitting in a private jet recorded against her knowledge and uploaded live onto a social platform akin to Instagram or TikTok.
Comments then appear making jest of her success, whilst the voyeuristic nature of the shot parallels the narrative thread of Tár’s involvement with a former musician whose damaging mental health results in stalking and subsequent suicide.
Similarly, during a sequence where Tár berates a student for their opinions, it is in this where we identify both student’s and master’s arrogance. While at that moment, the pair are as wrong collectively as they are correct, neither willing to entirely understand their opponent’s rebuttal, the later revelation of a student using this argument to tarnish Tár’s reputation with a stylised edit of her monologue aligns her once more with the narrative of villainy becoming a product of her environment, rather than explictly her doing.
Unfortunately, we are all now living in a world where our character and identity can be torn apart overnight. What Tár offers though, is a challenge to whether this instantaneous nuclear destruction is deserved, and moreover, if we can salvage it, or intervene once the Rube Goldberg of the internet decides you as its next victim.
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