“You must, in fact, stand in front of the public and God and obliterate yourself.”

Sixteen years after the release of his acclaimed film Little Children, Todd Field has finally returned to the director’s chair. This time he presents the audience with a very surprising yet beautifully crafted piece about an acclaimed conductor’s fall from grace. Starring the always wonderful Cate Blanchett, Tár handles the ever-relevant #MeToo and quid pro quo themes with a unique subjectiveness and unforgiving lens…

Lydia Tár is a well-renowned composer who is preparing one of the most important live recordings of her career: Mahler's 5th Symphony. Around her, she has a plethora of support. There’s Francesca (Noémie Merlant), her assistant and aspiring conductor. There’s also her wife and concertmaster, Sharon (Nina Hoss). And also, Eliot (Mark Strong), who runs Lydia’s fellowship program and is also a conductor. But as the recording approaches, Lydia’s blunt and unsympathetic persona, as well as her pattern of intertwining her professional and personal passions, starts to haunt and destroy her career and life.

"hits all of the right notes as it crescendos to an explosive point that send its title character to a place of no return"

Amongst the many masterful qualities that Tár possess, one of the most interesting and genius things about this movie is this: Lydia Tár is not a good person. And this is the case from the get go. The lengthy opening scene of an interview between Lydia and Adam Gopnik (playing himself) tells us exactly who Lydia is. She’s gifted. She’s intelligent. She’s passionate. She’s head-strong. She’s self-confident. But…perhaps a bit too self-confident. Her persona – her arrogance is very apparent. You cannot help but admire her…but you also cannot help but feel unsure about her. And for good reason. All things considered; the villain of this movie is Lydia herself. She is in the wrong. She is the accused. And making a movie on this very contemporary subject matter from the point of view of the criminal – from the point of view of the person abusing their power – is just a masterful and innovative stroke of genius by Field and his writing.

But on top of that, Field makes sure Lydia a fully flushed-out character. She is not completely lacking in humanity and heart. She does care for her wife. And she especially cares for her adopted daughter, Petra, who gets bullied at school. Her love for her daughter is genuine, and you can absolutely feel it. Her selfishness and succumbing to her vices destroy her, yes. But there is a heart in there, somewhere. Despite the audience constantly disagreeing (and even hating) pretty much all of the decisions she makes, it is not without some kind of understanding. The subjectiveness gives us a unique understanding that make us unable to completely hate her. Actually, there is much room to even feel bad for her. And seeing the escalation and reasons for these mistakes makes her somehow seem more human.

And then of course, we are gifted by an absolute tour de force performance by Blanchett. I mean, I really don’t need to sit here and preach to you the extent of the legendary actress, but I guess I will anyway. Once again, Cate Blanchett proves that she can absolutely embody any character she plays. None more so than as Lydia Tar. She holds nothing back in this performance, and it is perhaps the best performance of her career. The acclaimed actress already has two Oscars, but it would not surprise me in the slightest if this ground-breaking performance snagged her a third.Tár

Field’s directing, as well as his tightly-knit writing, are very stark in a masterful way. The camera movements are simple. It primarily follows the characters who are talking, but it is really a film where it makes the audience forget that the camera is there. However, that doesn’t mean there was a lack of care. There is a directness and honesty in the shots, especially for the shots that linger. The tensions in the air heighten naturally as the scenes unfold without many cuts or distractions. The audience gets sucked in. And for those of you who love them, there is a “oner” that probably holds for ten or fifteen minutes that tracks Tár, and the other characters throughout the entire time they occupy a single room. It is quite an amazing feat.

Tár hits all of the right notes as it crescendos to an explosive point that send its title character to a place of no return. Despite the long respite from filmmaking, Field proves he is still a master filmmaker with a one-of-a-kind vision. The entire cast, especially Blanchett, give pitch-perfect performances guided by Field’s beautifully composed words and vision. It is a work of art!

Tár is now playing in theaters.

5/5 stars

Film Details


MPAA Rating: R for some language and brief nudity.
158 mins
: Todd Field
Todd Field
Cate Blanchett; Noémie Merlant; Nina Hoss
: Drama
A Film by Todd Field.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Unfortunately, the architect of your soul appears to be social media."
Theatrical Distributor:
Focus Features
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 28, 2022
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: Set in the international world of Western classical music, the film centers on Lydia Tár, widely considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors and first-ever female music director of a major German orchestra.