Tár (2022) – Film Review
Director: Todd Field
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, Julian Glover
By Roger Crow
Winner of the most smug, self satisfied, pretentious, up-itself movie of recent years… is Tár. It’s one of those films that feels like it was awarded a grant as part of some City of Culture-style festival of nonsense, and having been given a load of cash and a star name, decides to spin out a load of threads like a chin-stroking narrative spider, and then ignores them.
Blimey it’s annoying. Talk about 50 Shades of Grey. Lydia Tár (Blanchett) is an obsessed composer/conductor who wears grey, lives in a grey apartment, drives a grey car, and her whole life looks washed out like a white shirt put through a wash with a black sock. Her fluent burst of German intermixed with English shows how clever she is with languages, and yet she has no idea how she comes across in the media, despite apparently being obsessed with it.
The first hour is proving how wonderfully knowledgeable Ms Tár is of her work, and her medium. We see her teach students, and give them advice on how they can improve, which is all very positive. But where is all this going with many impressive one-take shots?
The truth is nowhere slowly. But if you can survive the first two hours, that third act when things seem to get going, with Tár’s self destructive implosion, results in narrative threads not being tied up, and a finale so maddening, you’d think the crew had run out of money and abandoned it mid scene.
If you’re a lover of classical music, chances are you’ll get a lot out of it. And there’s no denying Cate gives a fantastic performance, but the screenplay is all over the place. It squanders screen time with plot points that don’t matter, and outstays its welcome by a good 40 minutes. I feel like I need an award for sitting through it.
The look on one guy’s face as the lights came up said it all. Bemusement, a little confusion and a feeling of ‘Why have I just spent nearly three hours watching something I would have turned off if it was on TV?’
Having said all of that, the closing number is terrific, and if you see it in a cinema as wonderful as The Ritz in Thirsk (one of the UK’s oldest, which boasts phenomenal sound), then it’s not a complete write-off.
A case of Tár but no ta.