TÁR

Movie review by Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
movie poster for Tár (Focus Features, 2022)

Common Sense says

age 15+

Blanchett is outstanding in long #MeToo drama with nudity.

R 2022 158 minutes

Parents say

age 17+

Based on 2 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Didn't know what I was getting myself into

Don't waste your time. Besides being a film about a narcissistic, predatorial lesbian, the film was disjointed and senseless to the point of ridiculous.
age 16+

Enigmatic movie that feels like a biopic

4 out of 5, but only if you are a professional movie critic, or love erudite movies. TÁR is a fictional story that feels like a documentary. It stars Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár, the pioneering conductor of a major orchestra. The story begins at the height of her career, as she prepares to conduct Mahler's Fifth Symphony. We watch as her life begins to unravel. The movie is a character study, and much of it is psychological and complex. While the movie has been praised by critics for the slow and nuanced way that the narrative develops, I found it enigmatic. I can see the skill in this, but the plot develops in a way that leaves the audience unsure of many details, even when the movie ends. One reviewer said “ the movie rewards those who allow themselves to be immersed and aren’t guided by expectations that some great melodrama is going to unfold”. But in my opinion, only true film connoisseurs may have this level of insight. Even as a movie buff, I was puzzled ( but watched carefully) for the full 158 minutes. Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of a powerful woman behaving badly creates dissonance in a movie about musical perfection. When a former student makes allegations sexual misconduct, and then commits suicide, the movie takes a dark turn. ( Tar is a lesbian, married to her concertmaster, and the allegations of sexual misconduct appear likely, but are only alluded to and then denied). The rest of this storyline is obfuscated : Is this married conductor really a predator who has been seducing young women in her orchestras for years? Since she herself has faced long years of sexism (and homophobia) in her career as a lesbian conductor, can she really a female Harvey Weinstein? The movie may be at it’s best in exploring the uncharted world of classical music, but is too cryptic to be compared to how powerfully Black Swan portrayed the world of ballet, or what Whiplash did for jazz. It’s extraordinarily long runtime may only be tolerable to those who deeply appreciate classical music AND have an advanced degree in film appreciation. The movie does have a great soundtrack, with pieces by Mahler and Edward Elgar that classically minded movie goers will appreciate. In a world that’s historically patriarchal, Tar is an introspective study of classical music with a fascinating female character. Blanchett drives like a maniac, conducts like a seasoned professional, and is so convincing that it’s hard not to think this is a biopic.

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