Free cookie consent management tool by TermsFeed Jump directly to main content

The Crack Magazine



Director: Todd Field

Stars: Cate Blanchett, Nina Hoss, Noémie Merlant, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover

Over its hefty 240 minute running time, writer-director Todd Field’s picture, his first since 2006’s ‘Little Children’, is a frequently inspired, occasionally frustrating character study. Blanchett is Lydia Tár, the accomplished and feted conductor of a major orchestra in Berlin. We are introduced to her as she is interviewed by the New Yorker about her forthcoming book and a much-anticipated performance of Mahler’s Fifth symphony. Then, over the subsequent weeks, her life begins to unravel as rumours circulate about a tragic incident. It’s a wildly ambitious melding of tart comedy, issues drama and psychological horror pic, the brio with which it’s (ahem) orchestrated just about making up for its flaws. The insider look at the characters’ high-end lives occasionally feels ersatz and contrived: Tár’s frequent firing out of random factoids about composers of yore feels more Wikipedia cribs than free-flowing dialogue. An early scene in which Tár dresses down a sensitive ‘woke’ student is brilliantly realised technically as cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister’s swooping camera captures their exchange and the other students’ reactions, but her target is so stereotyped, the exchange feels more didactic speechifying than sincere enquiry into cancel culture. Still, Blanchett delivers a powerhouse performance with Tár as compelling and charismatic as she is mercurial and manipulative. Great support too from Noémie Merlant as the conductor’s put-upon but wily PA, and Nina Hoss as Tár’s troubled wife.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm