Should there be any lingering doubts about Cate Blanchett’s acting prowess, the first 15 minutes of Tàr will lay them to rest conclusively. The titular character – the first female chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic – gives a public interview at the New Yorker Festival, delving into the essence of her role in the orchestra, articulating with passion and precision. Each term, even the most technical, is delivered by conveying its full meaning, in a display of skill and mastery I’ve seldom seen before.
The conductor finds herself at the centre of various tumultuous personal and professional conflicts, in a spiral of escalating tension. At some point one may get worried it’s yet-another-film exploiting the Me Too narrative, but thankfully it’s not. It touches on it, but with class and style. Tàr is depicted as tempted to leverage her power over young orchestra members and assistants, at times crossing boundaries.
In a beautiful scene, the conductor faces a laughable challenge from a student to disregard Bach; a prime example of cancel culture shaped by the currents of identity politics, he calls for the German composer to be dismissed solely for being a white, hetero, cis man. Tàr’s masterful rebuttal is reason enough to secure a ticket to watch this film.
Director and writer Todd Field has crafted a timely story and a perfect script to showcase Blanchett’s boundless talent. It’s a film that questions the viewer’s morality, initially drawing them to root for the main character, only to abruptly make them retreat in aversion. It also illuminates the world of professional orchestras, a rare focus for a film of this calibre.
Both Nina Hoss and Sophie Kauer, taking on the roles of the conductor’s wife and the young Russian cellist who garners attention, merit praise for their performances, which shine even in the shadow of Blanchett’s brilliance.
Tár embodies the brand of fierce cinema we earnestly wish to see more of.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Tár is released nationwide in January 2023.
Read more reviews from our Venice Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Venice Film Festival website here.