Does ‘Tár’ Root For Cate Blanchett’s Superstar Predator Bandleader?
There are many tantalizing questions that haunt “Tar,” Todd Fieldis a gripping, gripping, and dread-filled drama about a symphony conductor, Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), who lives an existence above the clouds of artistry, fame, and sensuality…until it isn’t anymore. The film, which looks like a Kubrick-directed documentary, is a kind of hifalutin humanist reality-based tabloid thriller that deliberately withholds information, a tactic that some viewers have a problem with, although I think it’s part and parcel of the movie. greatness of mind game.
“Tár”, carried by the extraordinary performance of Cate Blanchett, brings us closer to Lydia: her passion on the podium, the hyper-articulated fury with which she discusses the intricacies of music and everything else, her spy maneuvers . At times we are practically in sync with his breathing. Yet aspects of her remain in the shadows, hidden from the world and, in a way, from herself. She’s a power player who knows exactly what she’s doing, but not always what it means. (She’s a predator who doesn’t think of herself as that.) “What she said,” a documentary portrait by film critic Pauline Kael, Kael’s daughter Gina spoke of her mother’s “lack of introspection, self-awareness, restraint or hesitation” and the “supreme freedom” that it gave him. Lydia Tár is like that too. And “Tár,” a film that not only tells the story of its protagonist but looks at it, studies it, reflects it, is a film that’s willing to keep a secret or two from the public. It’s his way of urging us to take a closer look.
I’ve seen “Tár” three times, and I’m going to confess to one aspect of it that I’m still not totally clear on (I say confess because it’s supposed to be my fucking job to figure this stuff out). And that’s exactly what happened between Lydia and Krista (Sylvia Flote), a twenty-something New Yorker who landed in Lydia’s Accordion Fellowship for Up-and-coming Conductors. If you don’t want a few of the film’s key secrets revealed, it would be best to stop reading here.
We know this: that Lydia goes on romantic and erotic adventures with the amazed young women in her orbit, and that she had an intense version of one of those affairs with Krista. We know the relationship didn’t end well and that Krista was troubled and “unstable.” We know that Lydia, after the end of the adventure, sent a series of messages to the leaders of the orchestra in her circle warning them not to hire Krista. And we know that Krista is stalking her. Krista is seen, but only from behind (silky red hair, terrific looks), as she sits in the audience watching Lydia being interviewed on stage by The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik. We see Lydia, in the bathroom of an airplane, opening a package that Krista had delivered to her – it is the vintage edition of a novel, “Challenge”, by Vita Sackville-West, who was the author novel key about his thrilled but guilt-ridden relationship with an admiring woman who threatened to kill herself if abandoned.
In “Tár”, the backstory of what happened between Lydia and Krista is like a sleeping snake coming to life. Lydia, in her highly controlled and compartmentalized way, begins to panic about this, clearly wanting the whole story deleted. But then it starts to boil. The end of the case slides from unfortunate to tragic. Lydia starts frantically deleting all the messages she has sent. But her assistant, Francesca (Noémie Merlant), with whom Lydia was also romantically involved, has loyalties that may lie elsewhere (it looks like she was also in love with Krista). She’s not so cooperative in covering it all up, especially once Lydia lets her pass for an assistant conductor job. (“Tár” is, among other things, a corporate backstabbing drama, and what you would say about that particular executive decision by Lydia is: big mistake.)
Did Lydia end the relationship with Krista, who became all the more obsessed with her? I think that’s what happened, though the vehemence with which Lydia stifled Krista’s potential future as a bandleader suggests other scenarios, as do several dream images of Lydia and Krista together, as if the lure of that bond still haunted Lydia. Did Krista throw his, and Lydia demands revenge? That would be a classic pattern of sexual harassment, and the possibility is looming at least.
The fact that I still think about this situation as if the characters were real people says a lot about how “Tár” gets into your system. That the answer ultimately doesn’t matter much says a lot about Field’s strategy of luring us in while keeping us somewhat in the dark. “Tár”, while shot in elegant modern concert halls and posh restaurants and a Berlin apartment as big as a museum, is a mysterious film noir in which we guess the larger pattern of libelous behavior from Lydia and watch it all catch up to her. Field, inspired I’d say by Kubrick (whom he worked with on “Eyes Wide Shut,” where he played ivory tickler Nick Nightingale) and perhaps Michael Haneke, takes a divine view of what’s happening to Lydia , although this does not mean that our identification with her is lessened. If anything, it only intensifies as fate tightens around her.
There’s a seductive tradition of this in pop culture: in Kubrick’s films (which lock us into a communion with the destructive souls of characters like Alex in “A Clockwork Orange”, Barry in “Barry Lyndon” or Jack Torrance in “The Shining”), in blacks like “Double Indemnity”, where we are asked to identify with the sordid temptations of sex and murder, and in a series like “Mad Men”, which asks us to be the silent partners in Don Draper’s complex duplicities. To echo what Flaubert said about Madame Bovary, watching “Tár”, you feel: Lydia Tar, it’s me.
And that is what invests its fall, which is rapid and terrifying, with such a haunting and ambiguous meaning. Watching “Tár,” you’re likely to be spectacularly divided over what happens to Lydia. We experience it through his eyes, and it is in nature to feel pity and terror. It’s telling that the campaign’s first missive against her is a distorted video of the masterclass we saw her teaching at Juilliard. It was a spellbinding scene, where Lydia, with visionary ferocity fueled by her annoyance at one of the students, defends the glory of dead white composers (the fact that JS Bach fathered 20 children is meant to be a patriarchal strike against him ) and argues against the identity politics ideology that would bury them. Reactions to what Lydia says in this scene will depend on the individual (I agreed with most of them), but in the video that’s going viral, she comes across as racist and anti-Semitic (she was in refers to racism and anti-Semitism to denounce them), pretends that she was groping one of her students (she had put a hand on a trembling knee to calm him down), as well as other manipulated micro-transgressions. In other words, its cancellation is launched with false fanfare.
The second domino to fall is an article about Lydia’s adventures with fellow accordions that appears in the New York Post – a legitimate topic, but the Post has a habit of taking sensational stories and bending them into even more shapes. sensational, so we’re wondering if there’s distortion there too. By the time Lydia, on a publicity tour for her book ‘Tár on Tár’, makes an appearance with the lovely Russian cellist (Sophie Kauer) whom she has been treating, and protesters appear, the ground is falling beneath her. . The sheer momentum of it makes you suck your breath away. It’s all about judgment, but there’s hardly any time for judgment – there’s only the endless present moment of a digital stack.
And yet… we know that Lydia is guilty. She had affairs with the women working under her and exploited her power to make (or break) careers as a way to barter them. She uses these women and throws them aside. Details remain hazy, but it’s a predator. So is it right for her to be put down? Suggesting otherwise might sound like you’re condoning unacceptable behavior. Yet telling Lydia is so infused with rage that she delivers the killing blow to herself, in a scene that’s as memorable as an outrageous movie moment like Bradley Cooper’s Grammy Awards meltdown. in 2018 “A Star Is Born”.
In “Tár”, Lydia Tár makes her own bed, but she is also tarred. It is telling that she repeated the Berlin Philharmonic in the first movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. ; Lydia, we realize, spent the whole movie digging her own grave. Yet when she arrives in Thailand, where she managed to hold a concert after the cancellation, the film ends with a diminuendo that has the kick of a mullet. The scene taking place in a massage parlor is great. Lydia literally thinks she’s going there for a massage, but when she’s faced with all the girls in a room, arranged and numbered, and she and one of the girls meet their eyes, she sees, for the first time, who she really is. She glimpses the true nature of all the affairs she has had.
And when she finally directs, Todd Field takes the film away from her and gives us his ultimate statement about the “new world” we’ve landed in: the world of instant moral judgment, trial by social media, that undone Lydia. People in the audience wear costumes and, in some cases, masks; looks like they are in a cult. What does Field say about Lydia’s downfall? Does he approve or disapprove? Whether she deserved it or not? His answer is: The film showed it to us. You decide.