Todd Field films a Cate Blanchett at the top of her game

Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) in “Tár”, by Todd Field.


It’s been a long time since a film, a real auteur film, had fascinated the public so much, as a fictional character had not aroused so much enthusiasm and comments. Since its Anglo-Saxon release in theatres, some have offered their interpretative delirium on the meaning of the ending, others have risen up against the misogyny of the portrait that is made of Lydia Tár, the brilliant conductor whom the film which bears his name picks at the height of his career. Note that this is in no way a biopic: Tár is simply a character powerful enough to make you want to go read his Wikipedia page once the screening is over.

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If it has this thickness, it is because its creator, Todd Field, has been brooding over this character for ten years: the man is above all an actor, director of two feature films, the latest of which, the handsome LittleChildren (2006), dates from seventeen years ago. Since then, Field has worked extensively for advertising before managing to produce this tailor-made project for his actress, Cate Blanchett.

It is moreover with images that have program value that the film opens: an army of little hands is busy making a tailor-made costume for the great Lydia Tár. An opening in the form of preparations for the actress who, for two and a half hours, will play this monster of intelligence, talent and self-control. This celebrated genius who enjoys the best Western culture has to offer: confabulations in large subdued restaurants; name dropping at a prestigious music school; concerts in the best venues; stopovers in hotel rooms around the world. And from one to the other, a train, a plane, a taxi. The world is a large hushed theater with muted colors, without limits or obstacles. A world for Lydia Tár.

Discharge power

It must be said here to what extent actress and character are one, to what extent Cate Blanchett, actress with absolute technique, flourishes in this role which is her best: the sharpness of her acting, her deep voice and her hypnotizing phrasing, formulating in themselves a great show – she is the metronome of all the scenes. By observing it, one will inevitably think of Isabelle Huppert in The Pianist (2001), by Michael Haneke: another great document on a Terminator actress, who used the medium of classical music to represent a supreme degree of civilizational sophistication. And, as with Haneke, Todd Field chooses this medium for the power of his repression.

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