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Todd Field and Cate Blanchett Conduct a Cancel Culture Symphony
Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) is on top of the world. She’s a highly respected classical music conductor, an EGOT winner, and is on the verge of recording her sure-to-be masterpiece: a live performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. All these facts and more are laid out in a bravura early scene in Tár—the first film in nearly two decades from writer-director Todd Field—in which Tár is interviewed on stage by the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik, playing himself.
From Gopnik’s fawning pre-written introduction to the ephemeral laughs of the adoring New York audience, the rarefied air is so thick, and so expertly conjured, that you could practically cut it with a knife. Tár herself holds court with a holier-than-thou faux humbleness that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever been in the company of a culturally anointed “genius.” To every rehearsed question comes a rehearsed answer, insights about creativity and process dispensed as if they were off-the-cuff yet still holy writ. It would be insufferable if the world-renowned Tár wasn’t so damn good at making her high-art con job so performatively exhilarating.
This role is in many respects perfect for Blanchett, a brilliant technician whose talent is making you marvel at her dramatic method.
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