TÁR ★★★★½

"Time is the thing."

The general perception of this being a movie "about cancel culture" almost does it a disservice, as it makes the most of its runtime to very patiently and unpatronizingly and gradually erode the intricacies of the abuses of power from those who wield it to enact their own brand of petty favoritism within their world of elitist posturing. The film plays its own hand to recast that expectation from its opening moments, depicting a woman "haunted" before any public allegations are even made, speaking on the passage of (and potential to control) time with the implied knowledge that she knows her own time is dwindling, that the floor will cave out from under her soon enough when forces beyond her control conduct the flow of time as they may. That the film locks so fully to Lydia's perspective, making the most of its unfurling via compounding breaks in the framing, subject distance in the composition, pacing, and camera techniques to inhabit the rationalizations and excuses of this type of person—batting away their ability to admit culpability under their self-deigned guise of skill and cultural worth and intelligence—only makes this throughline feel all the more accomplished, gradually putting the viewer further at a remove from Tár the more it follows her.

It helps that this is an absolute wry chuckler too, knowingly in on its own joke about the lofty pretensions of the world of high art from the moment it rolls its credits at the film's start, and not letting up until its genuine howler of a final punchline. It would be one thing if this were a stuffy film about these big concepts; that TÁR balances those ideas with gestures toward its unseriousness about itself only adds to what makes the movie riveting, especially in an era where these types of films suggest they hold the kind of self-imposed significance Tár places upon herself. A lesser film would have leaned into how "of the moment" it is. TÁR excels because it's more concerned with actually making a nuanced portrait of the subject at the center of the perennial matters underneath all its aesthetic markers of the present moment.

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