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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review: TÁR

Set in the international world of Western classical music, the film centers on Lydia Tár, widely considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors and first-ever female music director of a major German orchestra.

Cate Blanchett, Nina Hoss & Noémie Merlant.

Tár is Todd Field’s first feature since 2006 & it’s clear he has been planning this one for a while because it truly is outstanding. Cate Blanchett once again proves to be one of the greatest actresses in the history of film, with what could possibly be her greatest yet.

I have to give it to Todd Field because what he’s done with some of these dialogue scenes is sensational. Dialogue aside, crafting sequences so engaging you’d forget you’re sat at home or in the theatre, but watching two real people talking with such realism is such an impressive feat on his behalf. Lydia Tár is an incredibly flawed character, whom realistically is a terrible person to all outsiders. But with Cate’s flawless performance, breathing life into every sequence and Todd’s very specific directing, it’s always a joy to watch her on screen and feel some sort of feeling towards her.

The film is heavily centred around composing, and who better to take on the job than Hildur Guðnadóttir. It’s grand, fast and atmospheric which compliments wonderfully with Cate’s gestures and movement, so exaggerated yet so elegant. While not as “thrilling” as others made the film out to be, it is heavy on the drama and isn’t without a few tense moments. Particularly entering the second act in the woods that sent chills down my entire body, out of fear, maybe. Other than that, it’s a heavy slow burning drama.

Supporting Cate is the terrific Nina Hoss & Noémie Merlant, both delivering fantastic, subtle performances that contrast nicely with Cate’s grand act. It wouldn’t surprise me if Nina snook into the Oscar nominee list for supporting actresses, because she’s truly brilliant here. Todd gives each sequence so much fresh air, holding onto a multitude of shots and sequences without cutting away, allowing the audience to be sucked into each moment and dissect what every character is saying and how they mean it.

As satisfying as it would be to call this a perfect film, I unfortunately cannot. While all the technicals are to perfection, I couldn’t entirely latch onto too much of what the film has to offer under the surface. Layered, yet none spoke to me personally which effected my overall experience with the film. As well as not being entirely sure over its choice of ending, which is both admirable and unsatisfactory. Despite being as original as it appears, I couldn’t help but feel a certain familiarity with certain story beats that I have seen before & hoped that the film was told in a different way, shaving off the time spent on certain scenes to give the overall film some extra flavour.

All in all, Tár is still an outstanding return to cinema by Todd Field that left me in awe over some of the impressive directorial choices & Cate Blanchett’s best work yet. To some, many will view this as a possible biopic, with its very naturalistic dialogue and camerawork, a decision I profoundly loved. There aren’t many films this year as great at this.

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