Clouds of Controversy Gather Around Todd Field’s “TÁR”

The Portland-raised filmmaker’s path to Oscar glory just got more complicated.

Cate Blanchett (Courtesy of Focus Features)

It’s seemingly the umpteenth day of TÁR Watch, our ongoing tracking of the Oscar prospects for the latest film from Portland-raised director Todd Field (In the Bedroom, Little Children). But for the first time, there’s bad news for Field: Two of America’s highest-profile film critics have raised serious objections to his acclaimed film.

Admittedly, the criticism comes from two contrarian sources: Amy “I’ve Never Seen Star Wars” Taubin (of Film Comment) and Richard “American Sniper Is One of the Best Films of the Century” Brody of The New Yorker (not that there’s anything wrong with being a contrarian; critics who don’t parrot the so-called consensus are arguably the lifeblood of film discourse).

Still, both Taubin and Brody are influential voices, and their criticisms are drawing attention. Referring to the film’s ending on the podcast The Last Thing I Saw, Taubin said it had some of “the most racist shit I have ever seen in a serious movie” (no spoilers here, but once you see the film, you’ll know why she might feel that way).

Meanwhile, in a New Yorker blog post, Brody criticized Field’s take on cancel culture (the film stars Cate Blanchett as a scandal-plagued conductor) and attacked the film’s depiction of class, writing, “The film looks at any social station and way of life besides the money-padded and the pristinely luxurious as cruddy, filthy, pathetic.”

Only time will tell if these critiques will meaningfully impact TÁR’s road to the Oscars. A review of the film will appear in WW next week.

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