“Tàr”: Cate Blanchett as an obsessed conductor goes from genius to schizophrenia

Among the many films about classical music on the screens these days, “Tàr” holds a special place thanks to the presence of Cate Blanchett in the running for the Oscars.

Cate Blanchett, who is up for a third Oscar, plays a star conductor, loner and perfectionist, accused of harassment by the musicians she leads… with her baton. This meticulous and restrained psychological portrait of a woman of power under the spell of her profession and passion, is released in cinemas on Wednesday 25 January.

Stradivarius of the screen

Lydia Tàr is at the height of her career as a conductor when she is appointed to lead the Berlin Symphony Ensemble. At the same time, she is promoting her book and rehearsing a long-awaited 5th Symphony by Mahler. A loner with a passion for her art, her life is turned upside down when she develops behavioural problems and excesses of power that cause her to break down and isolate herself from others.

Maestro, Divertimento, Neneh Superstar, and Tchaikovsky’s Wife: the world of classical music is in the spotlight at the beginning of the year. Todd Field’s fourth film, Tàr continues the director’s psychological and societal approach seen in In the Bedroom and Little Children. The only difference is that he has Cate Blanchett, a true screen stradivarius, in front of the camera. At the heart of his subject is the neurosis of a professional, obsessed with her job as an orchestra conductor, an art that devours her and leaves her empty.

Neurotic spiral

Beautiful, cold, distant, precise, demanding and talented, such is Lydia Tàr, a prodigious conductor who lives only for music. In Cate Blanchett, she finds the ideal interpreter to play a woman who has reached the highest level of responsibility in her field, at the head of one of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras. Todd Field chooses to show her intimate and professional environment, her fragility in her relationships with others, some going so far as to accuse her of harassment. The result of a demand on herself that will have a boomerang effect.

The director focuses on her character, in a classical form that reflects Lydia Tàr’s culture. Her neurosis unfolds until an unexpected final shot that opens up an elsewhere. Todd Field’s camera is observant and restrained, making Lydia Tàr a textbook case. He draws us into a spiral that goes beyond the musical universe, turning it into an allegory of the loss of identity at work. A great film, as contemporary as it gets.

The file
Genre: Drama
Director: Todd Field
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Ian Gallego, Nina Hoss, Noémie Merlant, Sophie Coer, Julian Glover
Running time: 2h38
Release date: 25 January 2023
Distributor: Universal International Pictures France

Synopsis: Lydia Tár, the avant-garde conductor of a major German symphony orchestra, is at the height of her art and her career. Her book launch is approaching and she is preparing a highly anticipated concerto of Gustav Mahler’s famous Symphony No. 5. But in the space of a few weeks, her life falls apart in a singularly timely way. What emerges is a searing examination of the mechanisms of power, their impact and their persistence in our society.

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