In the film industry’s morning paper, Mark Swed shreds the Todd Fields movie with rare savagery:
What “Tár” gets right comes out feeling wrong, and what it gets wrong is just plain wrong. Without an exalted level of music, it simply doesn’t work. This is what $35 million, the budget for the film, buys to create the Berlin of “Tár.” It so happens, however, that the price tag for the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin, the magically enthralling space Frank Gehry designed for Daniel Barenboim’s inclusive West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, cost only a fractionally more 35 million Euros.
At one point in the film, Tár is awakened by her radio alarm. It is tuned to the classical station. She listens for a moment and recognizes that it is a performance by Michael Tilson Thomas, whose conducting she likens to “screaming like a porn star.”
That’s the last straw. Tilson Thomas’ recent L.A. Phil performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony at Walt Disney Concert Hall was one of the all-time great and least self-serving Mahler performances. It was music-making as matter of life and death from a beloved conductor, who announced that he had a life-threatening brain tumor well over a year before the film was released. Even if Tár’s tasteless remark may have been meant to show us more about her than MTT (and there is no way to know what was intended in a film that delights in enigma), it exemplifies the film’s petty tone.
Read on here.