Top Ten Movies of 2022 — Number Eight

The highly meme-able joke that’s been running at a brisk sprint ever since the release of Tár, the third feature from writer-director Todd Field, is that seemingly intelligent, discerning viewers are confused about whether the film depicts the downfall of a real person. Never mind that there are a slew of indicators that the film isn’t a biopic, including a level of scathing intimacy that almost imaginable in the screen rendering of a contemporary figure’s life. That the feigned uncertainty that undergirds the gag is plausible stands as a mighty testament to the Field’s cunning creation. Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett, who embodies the role more than she plays it) is a formidable figure in the field of modern classical music, presiding over an acclaimed European symphony with the certainty of a goddess among mortals. She’s also a crescendo of contradictions, but in a way that somehow seem to spring organically from her being rather than impulses of a screenwriter. She is controlled and impulsive, domineering and tender, obviously brilliant and yet downright doltish in her self-destructive blunders. That last quality can be explained by decades of institutional compliance in response to her abusive behaviors. In reckoning with society’s newfound willingness to deliver consequences to those who took their marginally earned positions of power as armor against some comeuppance as they blithely ruined the lives of others, Field is admirably unafraid of complexity. When Tár is at its strongest, he conducts those discordant ideas like a true maestro.

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