Covered in TÁR (CREDIT: Courtesy of Focus Features)

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, Mila Bogojevic, Mark Strong

Director: Todd Field

Running Time: 157 Minutes

Rating: R for A Few Swears and Some Weird Incidental Nudity

Release Date: October 7, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Lydia Tár is one of the greatest living conductors. Does that sound like a role that Cate Blanchett was born to play? Todd Field apparently thought so, to the point that TÁR is the first movie he’s directed in sixteen years. Anyway, we’re introduced to Lydia at a live New Yorker interview, and it looks like it’s mostly going to be about her preparing for her next great orchestra performance. You know, one of those “process of genius” chronicles. But a messy personal life, and an even messier series of scandals, lurk barely underneath the surface. If you’re getting a sense that Lydia’s about to alienate all of her colleagues, friends, and family members, then you might be onto something.

What Made an Impression?: I’ve lately been reading Classical Music for Dummies, so I was all primed for TÁR to be more viscerally thrilling for me than it would have been, say, a year ago. But as it turns out, the classical setting is more or less incidental. Oh sure, there’s plenty for aficionados to dig here, as it’s likely to inspire passionate debates about the relative merits of Mahler and Bach, or someone more contemporary like Anna Thorvaldsdottir. But this is a story of the ego destroying everything else, which can happen in any high-powered artistic pursuit.

Lydia’s downfall could be read as a portrait of cancel culture, but that term is a bit too charged and complicated to be the most accurate description. For a good chunk of the movie, I found myself thinking, “She’s not guilty of exactly what she’s being accused of. Although, she is guilty of a lot.” Her instincts are to retreat, hide, get back to work, and in the process fail to acknowledge the humanity of pretty much everyone around her. What happens after that alienation? As TÁR posits, your whole world becomes warped beyond recognition, resulting in a wild fish-out-of-water conclusion and one of the most unexpectedly goofy final shots I’ve ever seen.

TÁR is Recommended If You Like: Geniuses losing it all, Finger dexterity, EGOT discussions

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Symphonies