If laughing and screaming at a killer doll flick isn’t your idea of a worthwhile night out, you may fancy the serious themes and dense dialogue of this uncompromising drama.
Director Todd Field signals his art house intentions by opening with what are traditionally (and for a good reason) called the end credits. Usually, if you pay for a cinema ticket, you expect to choose between finding out which firm provided the on-set catering and catching your next bus home.
This film clearly isn’t interested in offering anyone an easy ride.
After those annoying acknowledgments, we finally meet Blanchett’s Lydia Tár as she talks about her craft in an on-stage interview. She’s the first female conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic and she’s preparing to “partner with Mahler on his fifth”.
As she waffles on about her “ethnographic fieldwork in the Amazon”, you may wonder what everyone is laughing at on the screen next door. But, while often pretentious and frequently infuriating, Tár (even typing the accent on that letter A has wound me up) could slowly burrow its way under your skin.
Blanchett’s full-of-herself conductor may be preparing for the most important performance of her career but cracks are slowly opening up in her seemingly glamorous life.
Trouble is brewing for this “u-Haul lesbian” (me neither) who is accused of preying on young female mentees. One of them appears to be following her, another has just committed suicide and Tár suspects someone is moving things around in the house she shares with her violinist partner (Nina Hoss).
With M3GAN, we are never in doubt of what kind of film we are watching, but Tár keeps us guessing. It’s a tense thriller, an engrossing character study, and a thoughtful study of cancel culture.
Ultimately it’s Blanchett who carries this movie with a wonderfully nuanced and uncomfortably sympathetic performance.
- Tár, (Cert15), In cinemas now