Tár – an intense, sparse acting masterclass

Tár

At home: 14th January 2023

I am very proud of us: every single evening this weekend we did something downstairs together (film watching, Exit escape room game, board game) after putting the children to bed. This doesn’t sound an exciting achievement, but for the last four and a half years, we have not managed this more than a handful of times. It feels like life is changing again and we are able to get back in to what we love more consistently. The tiredness is still very real, but it is starting to feel more manageable and makes me realise we have just lived through a crazy, manic time. Anyway, I digress.

As I waited for Mark to finish sorting out the girls I was watching a bit of How to Lose A Guy In Ten Days (a stone cold classic) and, although enjoying it, we decided to take the plunge with Tár, which could not have been more of a contrast. Over two and half hours of intensity, drama and tension.

During Covid I have become a Radio 3 obsessive, which is now on all the time (although it has to compete with the endless shouting of Radio 5 Live as Mark’s preference). I think all the anxiety-inducing disease, war and financial news of Radio 4, the over-stimulation of Radio 2 and the slight smugness of Radio 6 has meant that I find Radio 3 an incredibly soothing friend. Therefore, I found the subject matter of Tár fascinating with references to the Berlin Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein, contracts with Deutsche Grammophon and the concertos of Elgar and Mahler.

However, although the setting was a draw for me, it really wouldn’t matter what Lydia Tár did for a living – she would clearly be impressive in anything she did (an entrepreneur, artist, writer) and that is the first part of the film. Showing what a pioneer she is and how she is seemingly helping other women to achieve, despite suggesting she has not suffered any misogyny in her profession. One of the things I was really struck with watching Tár and Everything Everywhere All At Once last week is the explosion in female roles and the discussion of gender issues in film. I genuinely don’t think we would have seen these roles and the amazing performances by Cate Blanchett and Michelle Yeoh ten years ago.

The performance by Cate Blanchett is a masterclass. She is in nearly every shot and her physicality and dominance is astounding. This is inititally something to admire, but quickly becomes disturbing and her control of every facet of her life and others around her is shown in minute detail. The slow build up of tension and how you change your perception of her is fascinating. The ending is a brilliant reveal and throws up so many more questions. The film certainly had an impact as my dreams on Saturday were mad!

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