Conductor Marin Alsop’s Review (2nd Half Of Page)
Definition of Insufferable: very annoying, unpleasant, or uncomfortable, and therefore extremely difficult to bear
Blanchett plays cancellable conductor Lydia Tár in the titular movie which for me was her most insufferable role to date as the ever-present central character: world-renowned conductor & sociopath. Wait! What?! Sociopath? Would have been a welcome addition to this 3 hour long self indulgent vanity project for Blanchett.
Displaying a permafrost of icy disdain, in a character that feels like the creation of a filmmaker who has spent a decade or so absorbing all vitriol, polarization and little more, which might be the case considering that its writer-director, Todd Field, hasn’t been behind the camera for 16 years.
From the moment the end credits appear at the beginning the movie the viewer is led into a high-art world rife with ego and other pitfalls.
Like Black Swan, a feverish psychological portrait set in a similar milieu, Tár charts the murky terrain where passion tips into obsession and raw ambition into something much darker. Um…NO, It DOESN’T, and just because some movie reviewer writes it, doesn’t make it so.
Blanchett’s Tár is an EGOT (Emmy. Grammy. Oscar, Tony) winner who claims to have flourished under the mentorship of Leonard Bernstein. We meet her chugging pills ahead of an on-stage rendezvous with a New Yorker interviewer. It’s a scene that spells out how she wants the world to see of her, rather than who she actually is: a sanitized, low-rent version of Tár known as Linda Tarry who, to the point of self-negation. stands in front of the audience and metaphorically ‘obliterates herself’ as she later explains of her undertaking. Watching her in action, it seems like a statement of fact.
In an initially high-spirited exchange with one of her students (Which we get the chance to see, Tár wields her formidable intellect like a hatchet cutting down a student who rails against the music of CIS, white, male composers’ like Bach.
A key scene comes before the action decamps to Berlin, where Tár is due to conduct the prestigious Berliner Philharmoniker (How long winded is this movie? Because all this time I thought that she was already in Berlin,) for a recorded performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.
‘The narcissism of small differences makes for the most boring of conformity’ Tár snaps, was she describing this movie?
The volatile exchange with the aforementioned student student comes back to bite her in her bourgeois arse arse via a heavily edited video on social media.
Still, that pales in comparison to the young woman that committed suicide as a result of her interaction with the conductor, but we never learn much about that individual.
Tár self-mockingly identifies as a ‘U-Haul lesbian’, Tár’s wife the concertmaster (Played by Nina Hoss) is a friggin’ Smoke Show that no sane lesbian would cheat on. But she s cheated on nonetheless.
Most of Tár’s relationships are transactional: a cordial bond with Mark Strong’s less able but equally ambitious conductor is soon stripped of its veneer of camaraderie; a gifted cellist is thrown to the wolves (Was she the aforementioned suicide?); a loyal assistant (Noémie Merlant) is cruelly overlooked for promotion; and even a school kid is cowed in terror for bullying the beloved daughter of her partner, although that little brat deserved it. I kn0w, I’m mean but BULLIES deserve what they get (Short of being a victim of a mass shooting).
Suffice it to write that Tár is, by any metric, a terrible person.
Blanchett brings her acerbic personality – to life in a way that is easily dismiss-able. Why? Because for being such a LOOOOOOOOOONG Movie there is NO back-story to flesh out the victims of Lydia Tár’s narcissism, nothing beyond halfhearted dismissals and shallow gestures to tensions that hint at a deeper psychological fracture within Tár’s psyche, where ghosts of past wounds still reside but are too raw to process.
Viewers once again never get to see any of this. So how are we supposed to know any of this? Are we supposed to discern this from her brother weakly confronting her, after she retreats to her family home once allegations of professional malfeasance arise? Or, is the viewer to discern that she returned home to ‘hide’ or by the fact that her brother referred to her by her real name; Linda Tarry?
The fact that she’s the one who inflicted the pain on others isn’t supposed to detract from the fact that she’s a human in a state of suffering, but it doesn’t.
Therefore after over two and a half hours I no longer cared, since Tár never seemed to suffer, even when she’s at the seeminlyg end of her illustrious career,, and is reduced to conducting music for a video game in Vietnam, Tár tells the gondolier that she wants to take a dip in the river hey are traveling on, only to be informed that there are alligators or crocodiles in the river. Nonetheless even that works out in her favor when she is taken to a beautiful waterfall in Vietnam to swim.
Doesn’t sound like suffering o me, and more like what would befall the 1% (Vacationing in beautiful Vietnam,) and participating with the locals. Still we see that Tár still clings to a remnant of being better than the locals as she stands in deep water, segregated from the other fun-lovers.
Tar’s pain is supposed to be the treatise underpinning this seemingly interminably long character study, with the subtext that people are messy and complicated but we should always try to understand them, if not excuse their behavior. Whatever, I am over it.
But_Wait! There’s MORE, because it seems that I am not the only one disappointed with this movie because:
Conductor Marin Alsop, who has previously denied any involvement in Tar, excoriates the film in an interview with Alexandra Coughlin in today’s Sunday Times:
“I first read about it in late August and I was shocked that that was the first I was hearing of it,” Alsop tells me over Zoom from Baltimore, where she has been teaching at Johns Hopkins’ Peabody Institute. “So many superficial aspects of Tár seemed to align with my own personal life. But once I saw it I was no longer concerned, I was offended: I was offended as a woman, I was offended as a conductor, I was offended as a lesbian.”…
“To have an opportunity to portray a woman in that role and to make her an abuser — for me that was heartbreaking. I think all women and all feminists should be bothered by that kind of depiction because it’s not really about women conductors, is it? It’s about women as leaders in our society. People ask, ‘Can we trust them? Can they function in that role?’ It’s the same questions whether it’s about a CEO or an NBA coach or the head of a police department.
“There are so many men — actual, documented men — this film could have been based on but, instead, it puts a woman in the role but gives her all the attributes of those men. That feels antiwoman. To assume that women will either behave identically to men or become hysterical, crazy, insane is to perpetuate something we’ve already seen on film so many times before.”