Tár Parent Guide
This slow, thoughtful film will appeal to a very small audience: for everyone else, it's an endurance test.
Parent Movie Review
Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) has built an impressive career as a composer and conductor of classical music, leading to a plum position as the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. She’s planning to finish “the cycle”, completing a series of recordings of Mahler’s symphonies. All that remains is his famous Fifth Symphony, one which she has studied and performed extensively throughout her career.
The pressures of this major performance are compounded by a prior relationship that won’t stay in the past. A former colleague, Krista Taylor (Sylvia Flote), with whom Lydia had a secretive and transactional relationship, has been hounding her with texts, gifts, and emails. Lydia believes Krista is mentally unbalanced and wants nothing to do with her - but the incidents have been putting stress on her marriage to Sharon (Nina Hoss), who also serves as concertmaster for the Orchestra. Lydia’s murky past won’t stay buried, no matter how she tries to handle Krista, and some dangerous chickens are coming home to roost.
I’ll start with the positives, for a change. The most significant of those is Cate Blanchett’s performance, which is absolutely captivating from start to finish. It can be difficult to empathetically play such a morally inconsistent character, but Blanchett handles Lydia Tár’s ethical ups and downs with remarkable ease. This being a dramatic character study, her performance is at the forefront of the film, and she is pitch perfect.
For a casual movie audience, however, Tár might be a tough sell. Apart from the fact that about half of the dialogue consists of personal musings about the careers and authorial intentions of classical composers, the show is long. Like, unforgivably long. Two-and-a-half hours is an incredibly difficult runtime to justify, and unless you’re dying to spend that kind of time on the trail of an increasingly unpleasant conductor in the dog-eat-dog world of professional orchestras, this is going to be an endurance test.
If you’ve got the patience, an interest in classical music, or if you just have a thing for Cate Blanchett, you’ll have a wonderful time with this slow, thoughtful film. Everyone else might prefer a film that relies less on subtext and insinuation to tell its story and provides a bit more plot and action. Tár is exactly what it wants to be, but that drags on a bit. I’m not saying I’d make any major changes, though. This is a film with a specific audience, and you need to be ready for that audience not to include you. Judging by the movie’s box office returns this film has made, that audience leaves out a whole lot of people.Directed by Todd Field. Starring Cate Blanchett, Nemoie Merlant, Nina Hoss. Running time: 158 minutes. Theatrical release October 28, 2022. Updated January 17, 2023
Watch the trailer for Tár
Rating & Content Info
Why is Tár rated R? Tár is rated R by the MPAA for some language and brief nudity
Violence: There are references to suicide without graphic detail. An individual trips face-first onto concrete and sustains obvious injury with blood and swelling. An individual is tackled and repeatedly struck and kicked. There is mention of suicide. Someone mentions past fatal accidents. There is mention of schoolyard bullying and injuries sustained by a child.
Sexual Content: There are references to sexual harassment. A woman is seen from the shoulders up in the shower. An elderly woman is seen nude in a toileting context. Another woman’s breasts are visible in a non-sexual context. A woman is seen in her bra in a doctor’s office. There are scenes of women kissing. A person is asked about “grooming” students.
Profanity: There are approximately a half dozen sexual expletives, a scatological curse, and a handful of terms of deity and crude anatomical terms. There is a racial slur.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults take prescription drugs for medical issues. Adults drink alcohol with a meal.
Page last updated January 17, 2023
Loved this movie? Try these books…
A more family friendly look at the stresses of the professional classical music scene is found in Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez.
Younger readers will also get a kick out of Lemony Snicket’s The Composer Is Dead, a mystery set in an orchestra that also comes with a soundtrack.