Todd “Tar” Fields and Alejandro Inarritu “Bardo” in Venice

aAt film festivals, reality and fiction sometimes mix in strange ways. For example, an Italian journalist looks at the trailer for Todd Field’s new movie “Tár” on his smartphone seconds before the movie begins, which will soon be shown here. And when the movie starts, there’s a smartphone again, this time on the screen, big in size. The screen clearly shows what is happening in the background: Cate Blanchett lies on a plane table, her eyes covered with a sleeping mask, her mouth half open in the uncomfortable slumber of transit. The voyeur behind the smartphone broadcasts the recording as a live video, chats with another person and exchanges sarcastic remarks about the strong and unacceptable conductor Lydia Tarr, who Blanchett embodies here. Only later we will find out who took the video.

The presentation of the smartphone already indicates the conflict between public and private life, in which the main character will soon find himself. Director Todd Field cleverly presents it: as a New York journalist presents it at a podium event, recounting its virtues and merits – Lydia Tarr is principal conductor of one of the world’s most important orchestras, Mahler expert, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar nominee and Tony winner – Director Cate Blanchett captures a pale Of excitement before you have to take to the stage, only to light up a winning smile. We see her order custom-tailored suits, cut music on the piano, scatter dozens of recordings on the wooden floor of a sprawling apartment, walk between them barefoot, and wipe anything she deems inappropriate with her big toe. We see a person who means nothing more than his work and does not tolerate mistakes, especially in himself.

little nervous jerk

Todd Field has directed only two feature films, In the Bedroom (2001) and Little Children (2016), both of which have received critical acclaim and Oscar-nominated scripts. “Tár” is his third film after a 16-year hiatus. Field began his acting career with roles including Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. As a director, he pays great attention to giving his actors as much space as possible. The concept works, it only worked with the best. In the marital drama “In the Bedroom,” for example, Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson engage in eye duels that can injure you, and in “Little Children,” Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson cause almost unbearable tension over the smallest of gestures. Field supports his actors with clever camera work. Focuses on their faces and picks up the details.

Cate Blanchett, for example, shows off her excitement at the catwalk event with a small nervous jerk, however, and Lydia Tarr only lets out the side of her body that is kept away from the audience. The camera also manages to keep both women’s faces visible when Tarr hugs his wife Sharon (adorably played by Nina Hoss), allowing viewers to make sense of the words the women say to each other through facial expressions and fact-finding gestures. Nina House is Blanchett’s match in talent and skill. When sex creeps into the game with force and arrogance and a young cellist keeps his eyes on the conductor, one look of obsession is enough to show that the two women’s marriage has more cracks than a sound facade might suggest.

Dream sequences flow seamlessly into each other

Since festival programming sometimes creates strange crossovers between films, Alejandro Iñárritu’s “Bardo, The Fictitious Chronicle of a Fistful of Truths” also has a man wrestling with his art. Silverio is a documentary filmmaker, who made a name for himself as an investigative journalist in Mexico and then lived in the USA for many years. Now, in his late fifties, he is supposed to accept an award for his work in Los Angeles and has doubts about it. “For years, I have been seeking approval from people who despise me,” he will tell his wife, getting lost more and more between reality and dreams. Compared to “Bardo,” the films that preceded Iñarito’s “Birdman” or “The Revenant” look almost conventional.

Scene from the movie

A scene from Alejandro Inarritu’s “Bardo”.

Photo: AP

Dream sequences blend seamlessly, sometimes with blacker humor (the unwilling child is pushed into the womb without further ado), sometimes with historical accounts (Silvero discusses with the Spanish conquistador Cortez on the Mountain of Corpses) or caught up in current political crises. . In Mexico City, a woman falls motionless on the street. “I’m not dead, I’m just missing. I whispered. Dozens of people fall to the ground around them, a picture of people who disappear every day in Mexico without their stories making the news. The movie brings you back to reality harder than headlines on a phone can do.” Smart.

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