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Movie Review – Tár

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Tár said more than once in the movie, “What was the composer trying to say to us?” Meaning, what clues did the composer give us to help us understand how to interpret the musical score?

I asked myself that same question of the screenwriter/director—Todd Field. What message was Todd trying to deliver? What questions did he ask and was he trying to imply answers to those questions?


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The only thing I can come up with is that the movie Tár seeks to illustrate how the behavior of people in powerful and influential positions are motivated to behave based on their position and not their gender.

Tár places a woman with a powerful intellect, expansive experience, and unceasing drive in a position that has historically been dominated by males—orchestral conductor.

Everything Tár says early in the movie indicates that she is part of a newly self-aware generation that is more evolved than those who came before. (At least that was my impression.) In particular, her conversation with the students early in the movie was, I thought, enlightening. One of the students had a moral issue with Bach. Not his music, but with the man. Tár argued that the student was irrational in his moralizing and eventually drove the student to leave the class in protest.

As the movie goes on we discover that Tár is just as flawed as many of those who came before her—old white men of power. She uses her position to consolidate her power as well as her need for sexual approval. When it comes to our attention that Tár has used her position to charm and seduce many young women, one of whom committed suicide, we feel betrayed. She was supposed to be better than this. But in the end, she’s no different than many of the old white men who came before her.

Symbolism

There was a lot of symbolism that I noticed, but don’t understand.

  • Why did she see a large dog in the basement right before she ran out and fell on her face? Was that dog really there?

  • What did the sounds that she continued to hear at night represent?

  • Most of all, what was that ending about? I have no idea why everyone in the audience was wearing those costumes. If you have a clue I’d love to read about it in the comments.

I might be able to answer these questions myself if I rewatched the movie. But it’s a long move and I don’t care that much about the answers. But I’d sure love to hear what you might have come up with.

Performance

There is no question that Cate Blanchett is one of the best actresses of our time. Her performance carried the movie. Beyond that, the entire cast performed remarkably well which is a credit to the director—Todd Fields.

Rule of thumb: when all of the actors in a movie suck, it’s the director’s fault; when only one or two actors suck, it’s their fault; and when they are all magnificent it’s the director’s credit.

Grade: B-

About The Peetimes: There’s a lot of symbolism throughout this movie, making it difficult to choose the best Peetimes. I have three that I think are suitable. Neither of them is particularly better than another so I won’t recommend one.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Tár.

Rated: (R) Some Language and Brief Nudity
Genres: Drama, Music
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss
Director: Todd Field
Writer(s): Todd Field
Language: German, Filipino, French, English
Country: United States

Plot
Set in the international world of classical music, the film centers on Lydia Tár, widely considered one of the greatest living composer/conductors and first-ever female chief conductor of a major German orchestra.

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comment 2 comments
  • Anonymous

    My interpretation of the ending was that she had gone from leading the most prestigious philharmonic in the world in Berlin to playing for a convention of Comic-Con characters. She sank that low.

  • Dan Gardner Administrator

    Agreed. That’s the obvious interpretation. I just thought there might be some symbolism there that I’m missing. I thought it was pretty obvious that she had sunken low when she had to take a small boat upriver to get to the city where she would be working.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. 🙂

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