REVIEW: ‘TÁR’ is a terrific portrayal of a downfall

Just like the music featured in the film, “Tár” is beautiful, gripping and epic.

The film is about Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), a superstar composer and conductor who accomplished an EGOT and now leads the distinguished Berlin Philharmonic orchestra. The film opens with her on a tight schedule, conducting an interview in New York City, teaching a class at Juilliard School and then flying back to Berlin to prepare for a new concert.

Despite her busy lifestyle, Tár’s career seems well on track for continued success and she also appears to be in a loving relationship with her wife, Sharon (Nina Hoss). However, actions in her past and present begin to damage her life and legacy.

“Tár” is an endlessly compelling view of a person on a downward spiral, partly of their own making. The movie explores, in real time, a person being canceled, and the many aspects of their personal life crumbling alongside their career.

It’s a devastating downfall to watch unfold, as PR disasters mount, relationships strain, and pressure builds on the protagonist. What makes the film all the more captivating is the protagonist being very much a fighter, the type of person who goes down swinging, making the process of walls closing in feel all the more dramatic.

The fact is, we as humans have always been drawn to scenes of tragedy and disasters. We see a trainwreck and can’t look away. Few times has a trainwreck ever looked so beautiful as it has in the feature.

Director and writer Todd Field in exquisite detail shows it unfold, with all the heartache and fury that comes along with it. It’s superb storytelling with fine-tuned pacing.

TarBlog
Courtesy Focus Features.

Of course a heaping amount of credit has to go toward the film’s main star. This is some of the best work Blanchett has done in her career, and that is really saying something.

She commands the screen in every moment, and a viewer can’t help but hang on her every word. Her character’s control as a maestro, loving nature as a parent, anger at the situation and attraction to another musician is all thoroughly portrayed.

The supporting cast is stellar, too. Hoss, as well as Mark Strong and newcomer Sophie Kauer, are all quite strong on screen, enhancing the scenes they appear in. Kauer especially deserves praise, as a musician by trade who’s appearing in her first film where she does exceptional work.

Music also plays an important factor in “Tár,” as one would expect. While music isn’t played throughout, the times it is included is significant, as it takes an important role in what characters are doing and/or feeling. 

The only minor complaint to come up with “Tár” are a few scenes where the main character’s paranoia about her situation is portrayed. It just isn’t as strong as the rest of the film.

Still, this is just a small criticism for a picture that excels in all areas. It’s well shot, phenomenally acted and finely directed. “Tár” is one of 2022’s best. 4.75 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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