Todd Field directs Cate Blanchett, Nina Hoss and Noémie Merlant in this character study of a lauded classical music conductor who is revealed to be a horrific human being… but ultimately a human being.
Tár has the rhythm of a slowly dying metronome. It starts in big overlong swings, sequences that take up a reel, then they gradually shorten so that the finale is told in rapid glimpses. I’ve reached that regretful point in this awards season where I have got my favourites (Babylon, Aftersun, TG:M) and any gold bait movie released in their wake is going to have to do something pretty special to not wither under their shadows. TÁR is very accomplished and tackles some prescient themes but it didn’t hook me and I felt quite disconnected and wearied by it for huge swathes. Technically I’m not going to fault Field too harshly and just accept his long gestating magnum opus wasn’t for me. Yet I would argue you could start the film over one hour in and not really lose any nuance or plot. There are big issues about self image, gender, #metoo, whether the artistic ends justify the totalitarian means… but all are covered with a more compelling clarity elsewhere. Many will be drawn to Blanchett’s performance but she has always been a bit of a Streep to me… acting for actings sake, glacial, when I want a full fat genre movie with with a full fat genre movie star. I will give credit to the few spikes of unexpected horror (a jog disturbed, the neighbour’s plight, the black dog basement, the final surreal audience) but I could and did leave pretty much the whole meal on the side of my plate. Too cold, too calculated, way too long.
Perfect Double Bill: Notes On A Scandal (2006)
My wife and I do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/