Starring Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, Mark Strong, Sylvia Flote, Adam Gopnik, Zethphan Smith-Gneist, Mila Bogojevic, Marc-Martin Straub, Egon Brandstetter, Ylva Pollak, Natalie Ponudic, Sydney Lemmon, Nicolas Hopchet, Kitty Watson, Jessica Hansen, Mila Bogojevic, Alma Löhr and Alec Baldwin.
Screenplay by Todd Field.
Directed by Todd Field.
Distributed by Focus Features. 158 minutes. Rated R.
Amongst many other mysteries, TÁR answers the very basic filmgoing question: Whatever happened to Todd Field?
In the 1980s and 1990s, Field was best known as a character actor, gaining a certain amount of fame and recognition for playing supporting roles in the likes of Radio Days, Fat Man and Little Boy, Gross Anatomy, Twister, Walking and Talking and Eyes Wide Shut.
However, in 2001, he created a major splash releasing his first feature film as a writer and director. (He had made several shorts previously.) In The Bedroom was a fairly large hit and a critical favorite, eventually earning five Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Tom Wilkinson), Best Actress (Sissy Spacek), Best Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei), and Best Adapted Screenplay (it was based on the Andre Dubus short story “Killings”).
Then, in 2006 he released his follow-up film. Little Children – based on the dark Tom Perrotta novel of the same name – was also a popular and critical success, this time garnering three Oscar Nominations, including Best Actress (Kate Winslet) and Best Supporting Actor (Jackie Earle Haley).
And then, nothing. No follow up films. He didn’t even go back to his former day job of acting – post-In the Bedroom, Field has only done two voiceover guest performances on the animated TV series Aqua Teen Hunger Force in 2002 and 2003.
Well, not nothing, exactly. Apparently over the years Field has been extremely busy trying to create several projects for film and television, all of which were interesting attempts that came close but never quite were produced.
Recently, Field told The New York Times, “I set my sights in a very particular way on certain material that was probably very tough to get made.” Of course, neither In the Bedroom and Little Children were exactly light Hollywood entertainment either, and those made it to the theaters.
Now, 16 years down the line, Field has finally released his follow-up to Little Children. And to be honest, TÁR is hardly a safe commercial bet, either – a two-hour-and-40-minute film about the personal, professional and mental state of a prickly classical music conductor. (Unlike his two previous films, TÁR is not an adaptation, it is based on an original story idea by Field.)
Field wrote the film with actress Cate Blanchett very specifically in mind for the lead. In another recent interview, Field said flatly that had she turned down the role, this script would also never have been made.
But it has been made. So now the big question: Was it worth the wait?
TÁR is a fascinating character study and the look at the fall from grace of a very flawed protagonist. It’s very well put together. It takes a smart look at a world that is not often explored. It also figures out an intriguingly different look at a current hot-button topic – the #MeToo movement – which turns some of the preconceptions we have on the subject on their head. It has some spectacular acting and an intriguingly off-kilter plot structure, with some offbeat editing choices.
Honestly, though, a good half-hour to 45 minutes of this stuff could have been cut out.
Still, it’s not often enough these days that you get a truly challenging and original film, so I’m glad TÁR is out there. And I’m glad that Todd Field is back in the director’s chair, where it seems he belongs. Hopefully his next film will be even better – and much less long-delayed.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2022 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 7, 2022.