Cate is at the peak of her powers in ‘Tár,’ a cinematic symphony - GulfToday

Cate is at the peak of her powers in ‘Tár,’ a cinematic symphony


Cate Blanchett appears at the Goya Film Awards in Valencia, Spain, on Feb.12, 2022. AP

Cate Blanchett has heard the line before. “I wrote this part for you” is a director-actor pickup line, she said. It is not usually to be believed. But what she didn’t know when Todd Field sent her his script for “Tár,” a modern-day parable about an extraordinary conductor and composer at the height of her career whose status begins to crumble amid misconduct allegations, was that he wouldn’t have done it without her. The production company and distributor Focus Features didn’t know this either.

And he was dragging his feet a bit in sending it off to Blanchett. Not only would it be his first film in over 15 years, but it was the first wholly original screenplay he’d written since 1995. It was, he said, a scary moment. Blanchett laughs about it now. Of course she was going to say yes.

She was rapt by Field, the actor, writer and director who she’d met years earlier about a project he was working on with Joan Didion that never came to be, and by the complex story of “Tár” and the challenge of it. In the process of preparing for “Tár,” she’d learn to play piano, to speak German and conduct an orchestra, all of which she does really does in the film.

“I am still processing the experience, not only because it spoke to a lot of things that I had been thinking about, but I feel so expanded by having been in Todd’s orbit,” Blanchett said in an interview with Field earlier this week. “It was a very, very fluid, dangerous, alive process making the film.”

“Tár,” which is currently playing in limited release and expands nationwide on Oct. 28, was born out of a desire to scratch at questions about power that Field had thinking about for the past few years — the abuses of power, the structures of power and why those pyramids exist in the first place.

And what better place to set that than the world of classical music? “What kind of conversation is allowable to have? Is there room for rhetoric? Is there room for a conversation where we can step into each other’s shoes and find common ground?” Field said. “Those are really high-flown questions to ask.

And I’m not going to pretend that this film asks all of those questions and definitely doesn’t answer any of them. But that was the essence of the idea.” In the wake of #MeToo, he knew that to have a more nuanced conversation his protagonist needed to be someone in a position that’s unexpected. It needed to be more of fairy tale.

Thus, Blanchett’s Lydia Tár wouldn’t be the CEO of a corporation or the head of an architectural firm, but the first female chief conductor of a major German orchestra, a position a woman has never actually occupied. She is a genius who we meet at high-profile moment on the eve of the release of her memoir and as the orchestra prepares to play Mahler’s Fifth Symphony.

Associated Press


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