Sadly, we live in an era where anybody can be ‘’cancelled’ by an accusation without being proven guilty. While the accusations that have been brought up might be valid or not, the social network, news media and random people act like jurors, judges and executioners. Maybe it’s not the right thing to say or even mention a term we know as a benefit of the doubt. But when you watch Todd Field’s film, you realize just how damaging it can be if it happens to someone innocent.
“Tár” follows the titular character, Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), the world-renowned conductor from Germany. She is brilliant at her craft, tough and uncompromising. She questions her students’ desire to become a conductor or a musician because she cares about the time she spends in the auditorium. She does not please anybody or offer any favors. It’s what we know so far until the moment she gets accused of impropriety towards her students when, one of them, sadly, commits suicide. But who is Lydia? Is she someone her students claim to be, or is it just an accusation brought up against her because they were rejected during the failed test?
Lydia is married to Sharon Goodnow (Nina Hoss), the orchestra’s concertmaster. But it’s Lydia’s assistant, Francesca (Noémie Merlant) that helps her navigate through the busy daily schedule. Francesca, in the meantime, asks Lydia to provide some kind of response to her former student, Krista Taylor (Sylvia Flote), who seemingly stalks the maestro. Lydia does not want to be nice or compromise, therefore, demands Krista’s emails remain unanswered until the scandal resurfaces, putting Lydia’s entire career at risk. Not only that, her marriage, reputation, lavish lifestyle and her access to her daughter are being compromised – including her own sanity.
Writer/director Todd Field provides a very detailed insight into the backstage of ‘cancel’ culture and what it does to its victim. Never at any point in time, as we watch the film, do we find Lydia doing something inappropriate. Ruthless? Yes. Tough, hell yes. Bold? For sure. Direct? One hundred percent. But that’s something that draws her students away from her because she does not meet their expectations. She is not nice or polite. She is just who she is. She explains how hard it was for her to gain the status she has and does not want anybody to think it all can be taken for granted. But her students perhaps think otherwise.
Cate Blanchett is a perfectionist, and she proves that once again with her stellar performance as a troubled victim of a cancel culture. Certain scenes where she shifts from a well-mannered person to an unhinged one will earn her many nominations. Rest assured, let’s not define her role by the number of awards she may or may not receive. It’s a different league of performance that belongs to Blanchett herself, and no one can beat it except herself. It’s an important piece of art that we must look into very carefully. We know there are victims that are being silenced by the weight of fame of their perpetrator. But it can be vice-versa as well. No one is being protected from accusations of any kind. Therefore, the film provides a look at someone who just falls from grace to the bottom from where someone on Lydia Tár’s level cannot recover and rightfully so – because the social network has sentenced her to exile with no turning back.