It’s always exciting when we get an Australian name in the awards season rotation and while ones like Margot Robbie, Hugh Jackman and Baz Luhrmann have all been mentioned, it’s Cate Blanchett and her performance in TAR that’s taking all the attention.
Cate stars as Lydia Tar, a renowned musician and conductor who is days away from recording a career defining symphony. As she heads toward the pinnacle, accusations begin to surface about her conduct toward younger female members of the orchestra and suspicions are raised by her denial of any wrongdoing.
From the first shot, what strikes you about TAR is the cinematic craftsmanship of each scene and the way they appear to play out in real-time.
There are lengthy portions of dialogue where the camera is fixed on Lydia, following her gestures as she reflects on her career and gathers her thoughts within a sentence. It’s easy to forget these are lines Cate Blanchett had to learn and not an off-the-cuff stream of consciousness her performance makes them appear to be.
Also in the era of #MeToo, TAR sets itself apart by telling the story of a female in power who’s manipulating the system. It’s easy to assume as we rally against men who have been domineering and exercised sexual intimidation over younger subordinates that the solution is to replace them with women who will “lead right”.
While there’s absolutely a case to be made for the benefits of female leadership, TAR rounds out the discussion to say the issue here isn’t just men, it’s people in power believing their position and talent excuse bad behaviour.
For those feeling the ick of movies like She Said or series like The Loudest Voice that recreate true instances of abuse on screen TAR is far more accessible, leaving Lydia’s abuses largely to the imagination and – by rendering them invisible – strengthening the impact of the storyline in the process.
TAR is a movie for mature audiences, but it’s also a masterclass in filmmaking and the kind of character creation that’s understandably led to Cate Blanchett being recognised time and time again.
TAR is in cinemas now.