Tár is Laughably Disappointing Oscar-Bait

Ah yes, Oscar season is upon us (sorry Spooktober). And one of the first contenders has received widespread critical acclaim: Tár, a drama about a conductor that somehow managed to have a high critic AND audience score. Maybe I’m just an outlier. Or maybe the general public didn’t see the film. Or maybe they’re suckers. I dunno.

What I do know is, the film is too long, too self-serious, and too slow. It meanders from one dull scene to the next – somebody talks to Cate Blanchett for five minutes about dRaMatiC THinGs; an orchestra rehearses a song but then Cate Blanchett cuts them off so she can give feedback; Cate Blanchett spends ten minutes trying to find a noise in the middle of the night…

I’m not saying the film doesn’t have interesting moments. This is the sort of lead role that most actresses would kill for – Blanchett’s Tár covers a wide range of complex emotions, and she’ll almost certainly win Best Actress. Unfortunately, just because actors want to be in a movie doesn’t mean audiences want to watch it.

The central conceit of the film is an amalgam of Whiplash and Portrait of a Lady on Fire, though not without the abrupt detachment of a Yorgos Lanthimos, and a general pacing that shares a harshness with The Square combined with a palpable discomfort reminiscent of Krisha, with an homage to-

Did I lose you? Okay. That’s what it felt like watching this movie. The ease with which the characters could reference composers, conductors, and concertos went completely over my head. Clearly, the writer/director knows the world of classical music. But the inside baseball will probably be too high-class and snobbish for a general audience. A.k.a. too haute to handle.

Also, the non-English portions weren’t always subtitled. I think it was German? Or Swedish? It’s one thing to do it as a statement, like in the recent West Side Story reboot. But some parts WERE subtitled. So… I don’t know what that was about, and I did not understand those scenes. Sue me.

Oh also, lesbians, cross that off the Oscar checklist

Basically the only bit that was worthwhile is when Blanchett calls out a snowflake college student for hating misogynist white male composers – a mindset that she calls reductive, ignorant and trendy. The student, unable to think for himself, resorts to calling her a bitch and leaving. The irony is that, as the movie goes on, we learn that she truly IS a bitch, and the whole exchange was just her rationalizing her terrible behavior. So that at least left me with thoughts instead of boredom.

But otherwise, what a waste for the almost three-hour runtime. And the ending is too little too late – normally I would be thrilled by the COMPLETE AND UTTER DEVIATION FROM EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED BEFORE IT! But the rest of the film was so dull, even THAT couldn’t make up for it.

Oh, also, the movie is about a conductor. It’s about music. And there is so little music, with so much silence and ambient noise, I was floored. And the little music that was included was regularly cut off and interrupted, so we never got to experience the full power of it (which is NOT the impression I got from watching the trailer).

You’d think the movie would mostly be scenes like this. You’d be wrong.

I’d also like to give a quick shoutout to Mark Strong and his horrific wig. I can’t find a picture unfortunately, but it was the real star of the film.

I would end by making a joke along the lines of ‘Critics 0, Audience 1’, because the critics were so unbelievably wrong about how good this film was. But nobody in their sane mind can say that the audience ‘won’ (GET IT???). So it’s a zero all around.

Rating: Avoid / 10

In my defense, the trailer was phenomenal. It’s more iconic than the film. And most of it isn’t even in the film. Just watch that instead.

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