Jared’s review published on Letterboxd:
One of the best character pieces I’ve seen in years. I’ve seen people say it’s a rejection of “identity politics” but I think it’s almost the opposite, I think Fields is trying to illustrate how identification is in a lot of ways baked into art, but how their are still those inherent contradictions to narratives people paint in service of ego protection. The film is talking alot of dissection of our current climate, whether it’s art vs the artist, cancel culture.
I love the scene where her Twitter brained student explains that he doesn’t listen to sis hedro white composers because as a (enter word salad poc description here) he finds them problematic and unrelatable, and in her defense while in general she makes some good points she gets a little too defensive, and I find this an honest depiction of generational divide with topics like these. On one hand “as a” black person lol film lover some of my favorite filmmakers ever are troublesome to say the least, but that’s art, powerful things can come from not the best people. On the other hand there are plenty of mediocre white artists people shove in you’re face, and have this heir that if you don’t pray to them every night you’re a uncultured, or a casual etc.. It’s really interesting.
It’s all about some obsessed with control, loosing and loosing that grip. While the idea of banning an art work because the life of an artist doesn’t sit right with my sensibilities(you can’t right the history of musical composition in this world without her character in this) the inverse idea of “the maestro” this virtuoso artist in itself has a connection to a kind of puritanical idol worship. Cinematically there’s a skeletal sterile academic quality to it that gets stripped away and more chaotic to mirror the implosion of the main character, there’s a claustrophobia, because while it might be “chickens coming home to roost” you can relate to having every peculiar thing you do be demonized. It’s like a metronome that starts kind of hypnotic and precise but gets more erratic, the more things open up.
Cate Blanchett is usually great, but she’s almost Isabelle Hupert “The Piano Teacher” “Elle” esk in this. She’s regal, but there’s this hardened quality to her with her booming voice and almost androgynous look. She has such an intimidating presence, she looms over every man and women, and you see how she exploits her status, and uses people like chess pieces. That subtle greatness in her turn is seeing how she becomes more vulnerable as she unravels, and that a lot of the ideas she spews get muddled, you also see how individualistic everyone around her are in their own way. I think the film over stays it’s welcome slightly, there’s a scene near the end that would’ve been a perfect mic drop, but it felt like it meandered and petered out, but in a nutshell it’s a real thinker, and really strong work.