Tar

Where i Watched it: iTunes

English Audio Description Provided By: The Media Access Group

Narrated By: Andrew Thatcher

You’ve probably heard quite a bit about this tour de force Cate Blanchett turns in this year in Todd Field’s Tar. Certainly, it’s because the film is well crafted, and Blanchett is one of the best living actresses. But in Tar, a film that explores and seems to have something to say about our new world we’ve created for ourselves, the complex theories in Tar likely make this a limited appeal film.

I know that critics love this film, but I don’t really know regular people who just happened to catch Tar, and found it mesmerizing. For example, one person I know was referencing an early sequence where Blanchett is in an interview with an actual reporter, as her EGOT winning conductor, and that regular person didn’t see the point of that scene, saying it felt like any other interview.

But that’s kind of the point, is that Cate Blanchett has basically made a biopic of sorts because she has so fully realized her character through Todd Field’s direction that she does feel like a real person. Like you could really be watching this interview.

Some people have commented on the brash and often times unlikable personality that exudes from our lead, but I’d argue that through many of the characters in this film there can be a reason to reject their characters as well. Not that any of them have a ton of screentime, and none of them come remotely close to being able to hold their own to Blanchett, but as an example, there’s nothing really warm or good about Mark Strong’s character here either.

So, there could be many takeaways, whether you look at this as a film about cancel culture, how social media has changed our perception, whether anyone is truly good or bad, or what exactly the price of celebrity and being on top is. As Blanchett reaches her fever pitch, the film seems to suggest that you really should never meet your heroes. And, likely, they are people just like us. Whatever theme you pick up from Tar, you’ll likely want to rewatch it again.

Now, maybe for some feedback. I thought the film was so dominated by Blanchett in almost an over the top way, that I couldn’t latch onto a single supporting character. I know that some people found solace in Nina Haas as the long suffering partner to Tar, but as solid as she may be as an actress, she’s still tilting at a windmill. Field’s direction, and his cut of the movie, do such a good job at highlighting every possible success Blanchett could have made in this role, making her feel lived in, that the supporting cast barely matters.

I do wish that I could see this film to get a bit more of the Kubrick comparisons that Field has been getting, but aside from a few left field choices, I didn’t quite grab onto that. Although, as Kubrick is the guy who directed both Eyes Wide Shut and Spartacus, it’s hard to say what “Kubrickian” even means.

It’s not my favorite film, and wouldn’t make my top 10. It’s an actors film. And that’s what I loved about it. Somehow, this film is getting score recognition, and I’m not sure why. The movie is literally building to a climax where she is about to conduct a Mahler piece, so it is entrenched in classical music. There are many times Field opts for no score at all. I barely remember there being a score to this film, and I think what I do remember might be not original.

Thatcher’s audio description really does lean in on trying to capture as much of Blanchett’s performance as possible. Facial expressions come through, which help as she becomes more and more unraveled. This is a modern film, so costumes and set can be mentioned without deep description, but some mentions of Field’s directorial choices, the style he’s framed this movie in, could make somewhat of a difference.

Frequently, I come up with a grade for how I feel about the film, but then because I just love watching great acting more than most things, it gets a bump up. Tar was close to perfection as a film, but my recommendation comes entirely for Blanchett, who is so good in this, it’s impossible for any director to screw this up.

Final Grade: A

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