“Tár” – the new Cate Blanchett movie 2022 with  lesbian content– release date October 7th, 2022 (US)

“Cate Blanchett is imperious and incandescent in “Tár””

                                                                                                New Yorker

Cate plays Lydia Tár (a fictional character) in Todd Field’s new movie, “Tár”, orchestra conductor, Lydia Tár, who is the first-ever female chief conductor of a major German orchestra and considered one of the greatest living composers and conductors of her time.

The film opens as she is gearing up to take on a major new career challenge, recording Mahler’s fifth symphony with her orchestra and Lydia, also, does a fawning New Yorker Festival Q&A (with Adam Gopnik playing himself), prepares for the publication of her hot new memoir, rehearses for a performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, deals with backroom bureaucracy at the Philharmonic, and begins to worry about the strange messages being sent her way by a former protégé and paramour. Lydia lives with her emotionally fragile wife (and first violin), Sharon (Nina Hoss), and their young daughter, but she spends most of her time traveling with her doting and loyal assistant, Francesca (a terrifically restrained Noémie Merlant, whose almost invisible energy serves as a convincing yin to Lydia’s always-present yang). We can see the seductive power of Lydia’s celebrity. One admirer comes onto her at a meet-and-greet early in the film, and Francesca is on the case immediately, for both professional and perhaps personal reasons.

When we first meet Lydia, she’s about to be interviewed onstage, in New York, by my colleague Adam Gopnik, who is persuasively played, in an audacious stroke of casting, by himself. (One presumes that Robert Pattinson was unavailable.) Questioned about her art, Lydia launches into an impassioned riff on the nature of musical time; asked about gender, she names various trailblazers who took to the podium before her but seems otherwise unconcerned with couching her achievement in strictly feminist terms. Her trail is her own.

Not long afterward, in a less genial scene, Lydia bumps into identity politics head on. During a class that she’s giving to would-be conductors at Juilliard, one of them claims, “as a bipoc pangender person,” not to be “into Bach,” who is very dead and very white and had the patriarchal nerve to father twenty children. Lydia strikes back. According to taste, you will either cheer her majestic gutting of twenty-first-century self-regard, and her stout defense of high aesthetic principles, or agree with the student that she’s “a fucking bitch.” But wait. The battle lines between such opposing points of view, Field suggests, may not be as clear as all that, and, over two hours and forty minutes, the war grows very messy indeed.

Lydia, who calls herself “a U-Haul lesbian,” lives in Berlin with her partner, Sharon (Nina Hoss), the concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic. In a movie short on tenderness, it’s a rare joy to watch them dance together to Count Basie. The couple have an adopted daughter, Petra (Mila Bogojevic), who is obviously close to Lydia’s heart. But not that close. The strongest venting of parental emotion that we witness is not a hug but a funny and frightening sequence in which Lydia crosses the school playground, confronts a kid who’s been bullying Petra, and tells her, mezzo piano, “I’ll get you.” The urge to protect becomes a tigerish threat. What Blanchett captures so well in Lydia are the moments when decisiveness stiffens into ferocity. Her virtues, like her formidable gifts, have claws, and, as with anyone whose professional mission is to take command of others, you can’t help wondering what will befall her if, for one reason or another, she loses command of herself.

Here come the reasons. Through glimpses of e-mails, passing chatter, and scraps of dreams, we learn of a young trainee conductor who was fixated on Lydia (or was it vice versa?), and whose career Lydia has since attempted to block. There are hints of a pattern—of other young women who have slipped under Lydia’s spell and suffered accordingly. Her personal assistant, Francesca (Noémie Merlant), is a guarded and dedicated soul, who receives scant reward for her devotions; was she, too, once an object of Lydia’s interest? Rumors abound, a legal deposition is required, and Lydia is Tárred and feathered on social media. 

Lydia is a supernaturally charismatic protagonist, the kind fiction often imagines but the real world rarely presents. Is she also a monster? The picture is fairly nuanced in its portrayal of the way that power dynamics work in this industry. But it also obfuscates; we are told about things Lydia has done that we don’t actually see. We do, however, sense them — which is an interesting position to put us in as viewers, since the film spends all of its time with Lydia. So, whose point of view are we seeing? If it’s Lydia’s, is the fact that so many of these transgressions are hidden from view meant to suggest that she herself is living in denial? Or is it just a cop-out on the film’s part?

Luckily, this is where Blanchett comes in, turning the movie from a moderately interesting and topical one into something quite beautiful. She brings the energy and the sensation that much of the rest of the film lacks. The poster for Tár shows her character with arms outstretched, the body contorted, as if in the middle of conducting a particularly powerful piece of music. Much is made throughout of Lydia’s flamboyant, dramatic style of conducting. And while we do see snippets of her at work, the film anticipates some big conducting moment — an extended orchestral set piece, perhaps. That moment does come, though not in quite the way that we expected. We want to see Tár, but Tár has some cruel fun denying us that. To Field’s credit, he gives Blanchett the baton, and she delivers masterfully.

I loved this quote by Lydia:

“An orchestra, as Lydia points out, is “not a democracy”, but, nonetheless, might it be helpful if classical musicians took the word “maestro” and slung it out of circulation?”

A movie definitely worth watching.

Watch the trailer:





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.