LIDO, Venice, Italy – “Tár,” Todd Field’s monumental look at Lydia Tár, a celebrated, if fictional, female orchestra conductor, has already won Cate Blanchett the Venice Film Festival’s Best Actress award and looks to repeat that honor several times as awards season counts down to Oscar night.
Nearly three hours long, the film, Field’s first in 16 years, dazzles with its imperious heroine whose Me-Too fall from grace is chronicled in a matter of weeks between Lydia’s rehearsals, auditions, performances with the legendary Berlin Philharmonic, at home with her wife (Germany’s Nina Hoss) and on the prowl for a new conquest, a Russian cellist (Sophie Kauer).
“It’s a very long journey in a very short period of time for her,” said Field.
Blanchett, 53, spent months preparing for the role. She took piano and conducting lessons, learned Russian. Field has said he wrote it expressly for her and if she had passed, there would be no “Tár” movie.
Because Lydia is her latest lesbian role, Blanchett was pointedly asked in Venice to comment about increasing global threats against LGBTQ representation.
“Homogeneity in any art form is death. But I’m very wary of butting up the word ‘importance’ with the word ‘art,’ because I don’t see that artistic practice is an educational tool,” she began.
“I think what people do with it after the fact, it can be politicized, disseminated or discussed. People can be disgusted with it or offended or inspired. But that is outside of our control.”
Lydia’s sexuality was never her focus.
“I didn’t think about the character’s gender — or her sexuality — at all,” she said. “I love that about the film. It just is.
“It’s a very human portrait and I think that we have perhaps matured enough as a species that we can watch a film like this and not make that the headline issue.”
But as she reflected on “Carol,” the acclaimed 2015 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s landmark lesbian novel “The Price of Salt,” she noted, “When we made ‘Carol,’ now I look back on it, no other films like that were being made.
“And Patricia Highsmith’s story was the first story where a woman who loved other women wasn’t redeemed by the love of a man or killed herself. So it’s a seminal piece of work in that and many other respects.
“I subsequently realized just how important ‘Carol’ became to people. But at the time of making it, it was just something that we had to make — and I’m not interested in agitprop.”
“Tár” opens Oct. 14.