The top movies of 2023 in the United Kingdom: Number 2 – Tár


Lydia Tár was once a highly respected figure in both her personal and professional life. She was known for her exceptional piano skills and esteemed position as a conductor, having been mentored by the renowned Leonard Bernstein. Tár was also the first woman to conduct the Berlin philharmonic and was recognized with an EGOT award. Her memoir was met with critical acclaim. She was a unique and influential cultural figure, often the center of attention at events such as a New Yorker talk. Tár achieved groundbreaking success and did not let societal labels or expectations define her, choosing to focus solely on her artistic talents.

The character of Tár, portrayed brilliantly by the talented Cate Blanchett, is a fictional one. However, Todd Field’s film captures the luxurious lifestyle and fame of high-profile individuals so accurately that some viewers have mistaken her for a real person. Tár exists in our current world and we are immediately immersed in her world from the start of the film. From footage of her on a private jet captured on someone’s phone to an interview with Adam Gopnik from The New Yorker and a masterclass at Juilliard, we are drawn into her intense, demanding, and self-absorbed life. The film even takes the unconventional approach of playing the credits before the movie begins, adding to its bold and pretentious nature.

Tár is a feat of world-building, especially for one that so closely resembles our recent timeline. For every year that Field took away from film-making – this is his first feature since 2006’s Little Children – he seems to have come up with a topic that would derail a lesser film. Among them: the deferential excuses in the name of genius, cancel culture, digital realism and social media, #MeToo, the perspective of a perpetrator, the cloistered and rarefied world of elite classical music.

Despite seeming unlikely, the movie manages to be a captivating examination of a character, largely due to Blanchett’s unforgettable portrayal. It has the tension of a suspenseful thriller, with the antagonist being Lydia Tár’s own personal flaws. As revelations about her past relationships with female students surface, including her mistreatment of a former protege, she becomes increasingly paranoid about the damaging impact of the truth. Her desperate attempts to deny and suppress it ultimately lead to the downfall of her career and her already strained family life in Berlin with her wife Sharon (played by Nina Hoss), a renowned concertmaster, and their young daughter.

Field skillfully manages Tár’s decline, which is one of the main pleasures of the film. However, there are many other pleasures to be found in this meticulously crafted film: Tár’s custom suits and minimalist wardrobe designed by Bina Daigeler; the chilling and brutalist depiction of Berlin by production designer Marco Bittner Rosser. The unsettling score by Icelandic artist and composer Hildur Gudnadóttir and the stunning image of Blanchett wielding a baton, looming over the camera with the potential for thunderous orchestral music, are also noteworthy.

The main success of the movie lies in its intellectual depth, assuming that the audience is capable of following along. It can be uneasy to confront the intricate nature of a person, including this skilled yet self-centered and narrow-minded individual who is brought down by her own emotional cruelty. You may not sympathize with her, but it will definitely leave you contemplating.


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