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Film Review: Tar (2022)

Kelaru & Fulton rating: ★★★★★

Available on Netflix | Runtime: 2 hrs 38 mins

 

Writer-director Todd Field grabs the audience by the throat and doesn't let go with his first film in 16 years, the unsettling drama Tar. Cate Blanchett delivers a powerhouse performance as fictional conductor Lydia Tar, the first female chief conductor of a major German orchestra. Lydia is at the peak of her career when allegations of misconduct emerge that threaten to dismantle her meticulously crafted persona and legacy.


Photo Credit: Focus Features

Field examines the cult of artistic genius and public shaming in the social media age through Lydia's descent. We witness the conductor recklessly chasing inspiration, berating musicians, and leveraging her power for creative and personal gain. The fictional Tar shares traits with real-life conductors, and Blanchett disappears into the role with intensity and commitment. Her Lydia is complex - at once cruel and vulnerable, predatory and protective.

The film mirrors Lydia's unravelling through disorienting camerawork and sound design. Jittery violin and flickering lights add to the tension as secrets come to light.


Tar is not an easy watch - it's a psychological thriller masquerading as a musical drama. The film will connect most with classical music aficionados as it explores the twisted mentality of a maestro. Casual viewers may find the pacing slow. But the payoff is an intimate character study that questions power and perfection.



Field doesn't take the predictable route. The film refuses to pass judgement or provide redemption. it simply presents an unforgettable conductor destined to fall from grace. Tar is a sinister work focused on the genius and the casualties left in the wake of a destructive artist. It's a difficult but compelling character study carried by Blanchett's ferocious performance.



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