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Maestro Cate Blanchett conducts the orchestra. Todd Field’s film review in Venice 79

Lydia Tarconductor, composer, lives in Berlin where she directs the Philharmonie, and belongs to the very restricted circle of musicians who have won Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award, that is to say all the …

Lydia Tarconductor, composer, lives in Berlin where she directs the Philharmonie, and belongs to the very restricted circle of musicians who have won Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award, that is to say all the most prestigious music awards in the American cultural industry. He is preparing to record the only Mahler symphony that is still missing from his course – the crowning achievement of a career, the closing of an artistic circle – and to pose for the cover of a box set of the German Grammophon who will bring them all together. He commutes between America and Europe, participates in charity events, travels by private plane, lives in an austere and modern house-museum, which reflects his ambivalent character.

Lydia Tár is a woman of power, she exercises it and takes advantage of it with the impudence of geniuses in her own right, she exploits it to seduce the young orchestras with whom she works or to whom she lets glimpse the possibility of a career. , she uses it to obtain satisfaction, in all its forms. And it does too in the #MeToo era, against the upheavals from which she feels protected for a simple question of gender. But in the midst of the reputation economy, the consequences of your actions always find you: the higher you stand, the faster things go.

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Todd Field (In the bedroom, little children), the one who just did it three films in more than twenty years, writes and directs his most ambitious work, the one with the greatest scope, productive commitment and political potential. She builds the portrait of a sophisticated and intelligent woman, but also cynical and serenely narcissistic, with the aim of investigating the nature of creativity and the links between this exercise of desire. In the first half, when the relationship between Tár and Mahler is presented, then between Tár and his profession, the film has its own impeccable measure: with the curiosity of neophytes, we immerse ourselves in long dissertations on the origin of symphonies of the Austrian composer and their place in the history of music. It is the story of a world that popular cinema has always little explored and in which the cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister – but also sets and costumes – confer a seductive severity (the film operates visually on infinite scales of gray and brown, on straight lines and edges, while the whole world seems in the dark) an almost police gravity which makes counterbalance at a slow and contemplative pace.

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In the second part, on the contrary, a more traditional narrative develops: it is clear that Todd Field is interested in isolating the dynamics of extreme narcissism and the abuse of power that ensues, by changing the acting subject, remove him from the stereotype of the middle-aged heterosexual white man and replace him with a lesbian woman. This movement somehow brings the film back to Earth, it brings it back to mechanisms so obvious, so well known, that the comparison with the wonderful rantings and the precision of the gestures of the protagonist on stage, which we have seen so far, generates a some screeching. It is as if the morbid news of prime time overwhelms the timeless exercise of beauty: it is a brutal detachment.

When the film says what it had in store, in short, we would like it to go back higher, we unconsciously wonder if there was a need for another story like this, even if it were reversed in genres reference. It’s a meaningless question, like any exercise in rewriting cinema: but if Tar it’s ultimately a work that asks not so great questionsnevertheless shares such a gift of beauty with her audience (Cate Blanchett’s performance, behind the scenes of a great orchestra, as one thinks of the inspiration of a composer, as the masterpieces of the past are told in the present ). ..) to largely redeem his cheap political streak.

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To read also: Tár, Cate Blanchett and Todd Field present the film at Venice 79: “The film is written for her”

Photo: Universal

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