Most of my classical music education comes from Bugs Bunny cartoons, so I was a bit apprehensive about Tár. Would my lack of knowledge about orchestras and musical prodigies mar my enjoyment of this film about the brilliant conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic who was accused of sexual harassment and eventually cancelled by the culture where she was worshiped and adored? Should I do my research and try to find out about the career of this insanely talented woman who was so admired by her musical colleagues but was cast out when she abused her power? Should I google Lydia Tár to see if she looked like Cate Blanchett?
The answer to these questions are: No, No and You Are a Dummy.
Having little to no education about the world of classical music did not affect my enjoyment of the film at all. It probably enhanced it, because I had no reason to doubt whether any of the facts about the genius of Tár were true. On the other hand, I watched the movie with a friend who is very knowledgeable about the subject, and she had a far more difficult time suspending her belief about some of the people mentioned and facts presented as real.
The concept of separating the behavior of the artist from the art itself is a question that has been debated more and more often as various icons of film and theater are routinely exposed for sexual misconduct that was ignored in the past because they were so famous. Most of these formerly admired artists have been men, so it was very interesting to see the reversal as Lydia Tár proved that power can corrupt regardless of gender.
As for the final question, Lydia Tár does not look like Cate Blanchett because she does not exist (clarification: Cate Blanchett is real. Lydia Tár is not). I think I can be excused for having a moment where I thought she was actually alive because there is a whole Twitter persona built around a fake Lydia Tár who has been actively tweeting. Even Leonard Bernstein’s estate got in on the joke (in the film, he was supposed to have been her mentor); the family confirmed that Lydia had been a teenage prodigy when she studied with Lenny.
How can you believe anything when Leonard Bernstein’s children lie to you?!
On February 28, the fake @LydiaTarReal urged Chicagoans to vote in the mayoral election. We have entered the multiverse again, and it is whack, although the music is very beautiful.
The Popcorn Kernels of Truth give this film Three and a Half Kernels. Ridiculous online hijinks aside, I loved this movie. Cate Blanchett was marvelous and the ending was so bizarre that it almost fits into the whole weird fake Lydia thing that developed on Twitter.
P.S. As a graphic designer, I would like to compliment the designer who made this poster. It is absolutely gorgeous and communicates everything you need to know about the movie. This Lydia Tár is REAL.