Move Over Maestro, It's Time for TÁR

Todd Fields returns from a 16-year hiatus with a new classical music drama

dah dum (timpani)

Great news: if you are jonesing for Maestro, the film in which Bradley Cooper is directing himself as 20th century composer Leonard Bernstein but are not sated by production photos of Mr. Maestro drinking a dragonberry iced tea, why not redirect all of your time and energy to a movie out this fall called TÁR?

What’s TÁR? More like, who is Tár? In TÁR, the titular Lydia Tár is Cate Blanchett, a renowned female conductor. Finally, a Maestro for girls! (Just kidding: Maestro is already for girls.) In the trailer, Blanchett slowly exhales smoke over a self-serious and vaguely threatening voiceover about the pandemic and madness and power, before a quick cut to her conducting Mahler 5.

There’s a lot going on here, worth unpacking for the feeble minds who hover around on Getty images waiting for new pictures of Bradley Cooper in a prosthetic nose to drop. The Tár at the helm of TÁR is, first and foremost, fictional, a thing I learned by googling “lydia tar real” and then “lydia tar real wiki.” No results. But more important than TÁR introducing a new fake woman I have to care about, TÁR marks the return of acclaimed writer/director Todd Fields.

Fields’s previous two works — In The Bedroom and Little Children — got him a handful of Oscar nominations, both for his actors and his writing, and I’ll be honest when I tell you that In The Bedroom absolutely rocks. (Though I haven’t seen Little Children, I remember its Oscar campaign like it was yesterday, which is actually the same thing as seeing a movie.) Fields’s work is complicated and nuanced and artful: he has a profound knack for human tension and explosive drama. Further, this is his first movie in 16 years. Welcome back, Mr. Fields!!

Perhaps it is unfair of me to compare this movie to Maestro, however, there is the Mahler of it all When speaking to Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes on their “Smartless” podcast (definitely), Cooper said the secret weapon to Maestro is “fucking Leonard Bernstein and Gustav Mahler.” Okay — go off. But in the TÁR trailer, TÁR’s maestro Tár is conducting Mahler 5. Shots fired??? I don’t know. This thing looks cool. See you at the movies!