Cate Blanchett in "Tár": Great Performance; Bad Film


After all the scandals in recent years involving male conductors and rape/sexual-abuse allegations, why must the first major film about a woman conductor portray her as a predator? While watching Tár I had memories of Basic Instinct, when we were so happy to see lesbians portrayed onscreen that we were willing to overlook the fact that they were psycho killers. Now we are forced to watch a successful, internationally-acclaimed woman conductor (who is also a lesbian), but suffers from major character flaws.

Where is this fantasy world where a major symphony orchestra has a woman music director, a woman concert master, and a woman-dominated board of directors? This scenario does not exists, so it is especially frustrating that this fictitious conductor is such an evil character.

Throughout the film we are teased with fragments of Mahler's Fifth Symphony, which are so short and disconnected that we are left craving for an uninterrupted performance of the complete work.

The R-rating is a deception since there is hardly any nudity, no "R-rated" language, and hardly any violence. The one scene in which Lydia Tár is seen attacking her replacement is most unusual in that a woman is assaulting a male victim, but there is none of the gratuitous "blood and guts" that is typical in a Tarantino film.

Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár

The ending left me disappointed. Where was the resolution of the case against her? Where was the "justice" after the brutal physical assault that she perpetrated? Are we to assume that she was able to get away with it simply by leaving the country?

I am waiting for the film that portrays the true lives of male conductors who sexually assault their victims. There is plenty of material in the pages of recent history for that screenplay. I just hope that Tár does not set back the progress of women conductors that has been built - albeit too slowly - for decades. I was also annoyed that the film portrays a classical music world that is completely devoid of anyone with dark skin. Hear me, people: If classical music is to survive, it must become more diversified. Duh!


Nina Kennedy is a concert pianist, orchestral conductor, and award-winning filmmaker. She holds a master’s degree from the Juilliard School. Her memoir, Practicing for Love, is a 2021 Lambda Literary Award Finalist. The sequel, Practice What You Preach, is available at


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