TÁR opens on an interview between Adam Gopnik and Lydia Tár at The New Yorker Festival, where Tár’s profession comes into focus. As a conductor, she ascended the ranks of the “Big Five” American orchestras, all the while composing, and in the process earning all four of the major awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, placing her on a short list of so-called EGOTs.
“Right from the first moment, I know exactly what time it is…and the exact moment that you and I will arrive at our destination together,” is what Cate Blanchett conveys within the first ten minutes of “TÁR,” during an exquisitely riveting monologue outlining what makes her Lydia Tár one of the best conductors on the planet. It’s a moment that haunts you throughout the film and long after the credits have rolled due to the spectacular prowess of Blanchett, one of those tone-setting monologues that marks the beginning of a historical performance.
The world of concert music is historically patriarchal. However, TÁR sets its sights on the women in Lydia’s personal and professional life, including her romantic partner Sharon (Nina Hoss), both co- parent to their adopted child and the concertmaster of the orchestra, Tár’s dutiful assistant Francesca (Noémie Merlant), who wants to follow in her boss’s footsteps, and Olga Metkina (Sophie Kauer) the young Russian cellist whose youth and self-confidence fuels Tár’s stalled creative energies and complicates her relationship with the orchestra and Sharon.
Directed and written by Todd Field, Tár tests the limits on every visceral level and it would be more than too easy to reduce this film into a narrative for #MeToo. However, this is film about music and the identities one goes through to fit into a world where there is a consistent craving to fit in exerting power of position to redefine one’s trajectory in life and career.
Academy-Award Winning composer Hildur Guðnadóttir created the perfect musical playground for what Tár’s influences and what her tempo was, etc. The production required four on-screen bands in four countries. First and foremost, for Tár’s Berlin orchestra, there were two days of casting sessions to discover if the roles of Gosia and Knut could come from within their ranks. After seeing forty musicians Dorothea Plans Casal (Gosia) & Fabian Dirr (Knut) nabbed the coveted roles.
This is hands down one of my favorite Todd Fields flicks for all of the aforementioned reasons, but easily one of my favorite films of 2022 – even if it does clock in at around three hours.