The film’s opening scene looks and feels like actress Cate Blanchett sitting down for an interview about her work. The two-time Oscar-winning actress has been doing lots of interviews for this film, which could land her a third Academy Award. Writer/director Todd Field blends the reality of Blanchett as a highly accomplished actor and this fictional international composer named Lydia Tár. As the complex film unfolds, it’s clear this isn’t a crowd-pleaser but a head-scratcher. “Tár” on the outskirts is a psychological horror film about the rise and fall of narcissism and self-destruction, i.e., Kanye West. Some are already comparing “Tár” to “Black Swan” for its tortured brilliant themes. The latter exposed the brutal politics of ballet, and here the curtain is drawn on Western classical music.

An EGOT winner, a professor at Juilliard, and a world-renown maestro, Lydia Tár (Blanchett) is one of the most respected composers of the modern age. Her methods and brilliance, however, come at the expense of others; her wife Sharon (Hoss), assistant Francesca (Merlant), or any numerous students who might disagree with her vision or way of thinking. Her abuse of power and disrespect of those around her mount a landslide threatening her work and the facade she carefully cultivated. At her core, self-made Lydia Tár is continuously proving to herself that she isn’t still “Linda” from some forgotten neighborhood.

Dustin Chase is a film critic and associate editor with Texas Art & Film, which is based in Galveston. Visit texasartfilm.com.

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