LifestylesReel to Real

‘Tár’ is a must-see; Cate Blanchett delivers

“TÁR” (US-Rated R)

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Nina Hoss, Noémie Merlant, Mark Strong

Genre: Drama, Music

Where to watch: Video-on-demand

Dwight’s Rating: 

Is this the most complex performance and film role of the last year?

The film “Tár” may itself be the most complex of the year. And star Cate Blanchett – who seems to give her “greatest performance yet” with every single subsequent role – has actually more than likely done it again with this “greatest performance yet” of her long, distinguished career. She seems well poised to take home her THIRD Academy Award this March (the nominations will be announced next week Tuesday).

Unlike so many other films with strong female roles of this caliber, the actual picture often struggles to live up to the hype of the performance. But not “Tár”. Blanchett is a Category 5 hurricane, but she and the picture are perfectly in sync.

Despite some elements that one would expect would be a turnoff to all but those who solely watch PBS and only listen to NPR (if they doth lower themselves to even indulge in the visual media at all, egad!), “Tár” is watchable, intriguing, disturbing and even exhilarating.

Set in the international world of western classical music, renowned musician Lydia Tár is widely considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors. She is the very first female director of a major German orchestra, and is days away from recording the symphony that will elevate her career. But then, her world slowly begins to crumble.

Now, the pretentiousness of the first 15 minutes of the picture will likely cause a whole lot of people to want to check out. The pomposity and arrogance of every single word, gesture, Lydia’s attire, and even the Australian Blanchett playing Lydia with an old-Hollywood Mid-Atlantic or rich New Englander accent, may seem like a bit too much to bear.

And even a classical music lover like myself at first thought, “I don’t know if I can do two hours and 37 minutes of this.”

But trust me! Stay with it! In fact, that’s the whole point here. Lydia Tár and all the folks like her ain’t no better than anybody else. And many are possibly much worse.

Things start to get very relatable, very quickly. And very familiar. Not because you’ve seen a movie like this before but, rather, because it feels so real!

But Lydia Tár is not a real person. This is NOT a biopic. So, why does it feel so authentic?

That’s because Lydia represents all the scores of giants of industry who fell from the top of the mountain to the pits of hell in the past 10 years.

This may as well be the Harvey Weinstein story. Or Matt Lauer. Or Bill Cosby. Or [insert name here]!

Is it more shocking when it’s a woman and a lesbian?

Unlike some of those men who have since been “canceled” because of their misdeeds, Lydia is not an entirely terrible person. Yes, you can apply many unflattering adjectives to her. But she’s not intentionally trying to hurt anybody. (I think!)

But like some of the great composers she critiques, she is a flawed individual. And of course, sometimes, it’s the tiny human character flaws that can be the costliest.

How good is this movie? Well, after completing the film, I immediately rewatched the same first 15 minutes that had initially been such a turn-off. And I watched in complete amazement. This is a film that would benefit from multiple viewings. Blanchett steals and is the show, but the entire cast and film – written and directed by Todd Field – is wonderful.

The subject matter will be challenging for some, but don’t miss “Tár” to see Cate Blanchett deliver the greatest acting performance (of any gender) of the year!

• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.

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Dwight Strachan

Dwight is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff.

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