In the interchangeably morphing online film discourse space post-pandemic debate around awards contenders seems to be getting even more niche and fragmented. Spearheaded by the kind of people who would not know what cinema with a shred of populism if it hit them with the speed and force of an oncoming freight train. The kind of debate-centric film fans whose objective enjoyment of whatever popular media is in the discourse depends on whether it appeared at occasionally audience-friendly but mostly critic-endorsed film festivals. These will get whittled down into the pool of awards contenders for each year. A certain number of them will win Oscars. rinse and repeat for the award cycle every year. there’s no better example of where the rhetoric around the contemporary awards fair is in 2022 than Tar . A 157 minutes dialogue focused drama focusing on Cate Blanchett playing a fictional classical music conductor in a universe that essentially hasn’t changed any of the standard classic or modern music figures one would expect to see in a fact-based drama beyond our central characters insertion. The anti-hero bestows the values of the more classically inclined composers regardless of how her LGBTQ status contrasts against the agreed-upon masters of the genre largely made up of crusty old white men. She’s decidedly hubristic and has effectively bought into her ongoing genius narrative. we want our central figure to make a series of increasingly self-centred emotionally abusive decisions. That’s kind of it. On paper, this honestly sounds like hyper-liberal awards-bait movie mad-libs. Believe it or not, this viewer did go to the UK release of the film with a certain amount of dread but also hope and expectation, Just because something seems targeted at an awards-bait audience doesn’t mean it can’t have some vestige of recommendable qualities even on the admire rather than enjoy spectrum. Or be outright great on its own merit regardless of its place within the awards race. From the 2022 awards cycle Till, Aftersun and All The Beauty And The Bloodshed fit this description nicely from this writer’s perspective. Maybe Tar would offer some vestige of a unique take on topics and themes built exclusively for the online discourse crowd. Was this the case?
Absolutely not? Let’s get one thing after the way through. Blanchet’s central performance is as expected very strong. Her portrayal of Lydia tar as a character exudes the kind of quiet authority that on some level is what the material is going for respectably and admirably. No bones about it though. Other than that if one is not humiliatingly entrenched in online film discussion this is a borderline painful viewing The sort of this unbelievably overwritten yet painfully basic affair that exists only to parrot the existing talking points about the potential value and hubris of historical and cultural figures that would be considered “problematic” by section of today’s social justice focused audience. It has nothing to offer beyond reheated leftovers of the kind of exhausting back and forth that takes place on media Twitter every single day.
This writer was trying to think of the last time he was so blatantly out of step with the critical establishment on something. Prano Bailey-Bond’s
film classification horror Censor a lot of frankly bizarre acclaim from the British critical set despite being the thinnest possible execution of a pretty good concept (despite a strong lead performance.) The correct answer is probably soldiering through the first season of HBO’s Succession before slapping it with the mental 5/10 that he will stick by. At least Succession has some barbaristic wit in the dialogue and characters It was somewhat engaging to watch the Roys be awful human beings to one another even if there seemed very little opportunity for progression. The writing as a whole didn’t seem so desperate to blow itself as with Todd Field and his collaborators here. If one wants a genuinely fantastic hubris-focused drama season one of FX’s The Bear is available for streaming now and runtime-wise is only an hour and a half longer than Tar at the time of writing. The fact the creatives here have a genuine shot at winning Best Picture. In this scenario, it will just lead to a selection of populous movie fans who aren’t terminally online questioning what on earth this thing even has to offer outside of the lead performance.
This author is not he tells his audience that Tar is the worst thing ever. Or even the most egregious case of playing to a specific set of awards voters in the history of these prizes. He is sure there are plenty of films with even smaller audience pools that have turned up in award cycles over the generations. however, in the roughly 15 years this author has been watching the majority of frontrunners every year this is the one that feels the most worthless (outside the admittedly very strong central performance) do those that don’t have an immediate investment in the runners and riders, winners and losers every year. Add on top of that that the film itself feels at least five years out of date with how it approaches a decidedly tired subset of online media discourse. The lead performance will be worth the experience for plenty. That said if one is not already part of a specific audience niche this view would advise staying well away.