By Joanna Langfield

Todd Field’s elegant and compelling drama is an of the moment look at power and its abuse. It’s a great, relevant piece of writing, brought to unshakeable life by a terrific cast, led by the inimitable Cate Blanchett.

While set in the specific world of classical music, what we see reveal itself could have, and has, happened almost anywhere. Corporations, industries such as sports, media and, dare I say, film, have been rocked by revelations not unlike what happens here. Most of the pieces I’ve seen about those stories have been appropriately angry and square on bold. Field takes a different path. His is a work of art, paralleling the mysterious beauty of the music and the intensity of those who make it. From Tar’s first speech, given as a not so humble response to a New Yorker on stage interview, we know this iconic EGOT doesn’t suffer fools gladly. And the movie about her respects its audience, never spoon feeding its revelations, questions or lessons learned.

I don’t want to give a lot of story detail here, the arc of the story and the peeling away of it is too much horrifying fun to discover on your own. But I do want to note the actors, all of whom meet the challenges presented and more. There’s memorable work from Julian Glover, Noemie Merlant, Mark Strong and especially Nina Hoss, the heart and soul counterpoint to Tar’s sharklike lifeforce. Maybe it’s more interesting to have a woman as the bad guy (there are those questions again), but there’s no doubt without that decision, we wouldn’t have the thrill of watching Blanchett, one of the finest actors working today, take her on. Cutting through all the isms and fluff you just know her character wouldn’t stand for a second, Blanchett serves up a steely, smart and impeccably measured performance that somehow keeps us under her spell.

TAR is a fascinating movie. And I can’t wait to watch it again.