TR (2022) made its world premiere at the beginning of September at the 79th annual Venice International Film Festival when it was met with rapturous acclaim and a standing ovation that lasted for a whopping six minutes.
Reviews for the film have also been very positive, so the enthusiastic response from the audience wasn’t just beginner’s luck. With a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 91 on Metacritic, TR has become a darling of aggregate review score sites.
What Is The Movie Tar About?
At the beginning of the film, protagonist Lydia Tar is introduced at the illustrious New Yorker Festival, where interviewer Adam Gopnik reads aloud all of Tar’s many accomplishments and awards. Lydia’s accomplishments in the arts and the entertainment industry go far beyond her status as a world-renowned composer-conductor.
She is one of a select handful who has won all four of the major entertainment awards (Grammy, Oscar, Emmy, and Tony) and has served as principal conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and Berlin Philharmonic. During her on-stage conversation with Gopnik, she mostly promotes her upcoming performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony with her orchestra in Berlin, which will complete the cycle.
It should be mentioned that, contrary to (some) promotional efforts for “Tar,” the character of Lydia Tar is entirely fictitious and is not based on any real person. We soon learn that in addition to her other responsibilities, this woman oversees a fellowship program for young female conductors, run by an associate named Eliot Kaplan. Click here to watch Tar
Lydia mentions to Kaplan during lunch that she is considering opening up her fellowship program to men as well, but she may change her mind after hearing the manager’s concern that they may lose contributors if they do so.
On a more intimate level, though, cracks begin to show over time. For example, Francesca, Lydia’s personal assistant, often feels as though her boss takes her and her job for granted. Lydia isn’t really concerned that she and her concertmaster/partner Sharon don’t spend much quality time together.
When she goes back to her opulent Berlin home, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their adopted daughter, Petra. In New York, while giving a guest lecture at the Juilliard School, Lydia encounters a young student who is uninterested in Bach’s creativity due to the composer’s alleged patriarchal worldview.
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Lydia then eloquently condemns the young man and warns her fellow students against making value judgments about an artist’s work based on their personal circumstances. In the meantime, a woman has been trying to get in touch with Lydia through both direct and indirect channels (including her assistant Francesca), but Lydia has been avoiding her completely.
Lydia begins to hallucinate and hear the slightest of weird noises in her house as the frequency and value of the woman’s emails and presents increase, and it becomes increasingly clear that she is being haunted by demons from her past.
Who Exactly Is Lydia Tár?
Having your online shenanigans forgotten is much simpler when you aren’t a real person.
The film promotes itself as if it were based on a true story, even though the composer, Lydia Tár, is entirely made up. Tár is described as “widely considered one of the greatest living composer/conductors and the first-ever female chief conductor of a major German orchestra” in the film’s description.
The movie doesn’t exaggerate her resume; she really did serve as the conductor of the BSO and the NY Philharmonic and win the elusive EGOT. While she is more well-known than any other conductor-composer since Leonard Bernstein (who, of course, served as her film mentor), it is not unheard of for someone to be widely admired in their field yet mostly unknown to the general public.
It’s not only you if you saw the film and thought Tár actually existed. Many moviegoers vented their frustrations on Twitter about how they were duped into thinking the film was based on a real composer’s life. Here you can also read Transporter 3 Cast, Plot, And What’s The Review Of Transporter 3
Tár’s downfall is a dramatic spectacle, but the film does a great job of grounding her in reality, such that you can’t help but feel like you’re witnessing the unraveling of a real woman’s life. Tár’s avarice and corruption are so similar to other powerful figures (think #MeToo) that it’s not difficult to see them occurring in real life.
Even if Lydia Tár does not exist, there are undoubtedly powerful people just like her. And while it’s great that there are more women composer-conductors in the symphonic world, it’s probably best that the highly corrupt Tár isn’t one of them.