Cate Blanchett is defending her Oscar-contending drama “Tár” in the wake of conductor Marin Alsop’s criticism. Alsop, who some believe inspired Blanchett’s character and who is name-checked in the movie, railed against the Todd Field-directed drama in an interview with The Sunday Times, saying it offended her “as a woman… as a conductor…as a lesbian.”
Appearing on BBC Radio 4 (via The Independent), Blanchett said she has the “upmost respect” for Aslop. “She’s a trailblazer of a musician and a conductor,” the Oscar winner added. “And it’s a very provocative film and it will elicit a lot of very strong responses for people.”
“What [director Todd Field] and I wanted to do was to create a really lively conversation,” Blanchett continued. “So there’s no right or wrong responses to works of art. It’s not a film about conducting, and I think that the circumstances of the character are entirely fictitious. I looked at so many different conductors, but I also looked at novelists and visual artists and musicians of all stripes. It’s a very non-literal film.”
Blanchett said Aslop is “entitled to her opinion,” but the actor said “Tár” is about power and not gender. “It’s a meditation on power and power is genderless,” she said. Earlier in the interview, Blanchett described the film as “a meditation on power and the corrupting nature of power and I think that that doesn’t necessarily happen only in cultural circles.”
“I mean, she could just as well have been a master architect or the head of a major banking corporation,” Blanchett added about her character. She later said, “ I don’t think you could have talked about the corrupting nature of power in as nuanced a way as Todd Field has done as a filmmaker if there was a male at the center of it because we understand so absolutely what that looks like. I think that power is a corrupting force no matter what one’s gender is. I think it affects all of us.”
In her criticism of “Tár,” Aslop slammed the movie for making Blanchett’s eponymous conductor an abuser. “To have an opportunity to portray a woman in that role and to make her an abuser — for me that was heartbreaking,” she wrote. “I think all women and all feminists should be bothered by that kind of depiction because it’s not really about women conductors, is it? It’s about women as leaders in our society.”
“Tár” stars Blanchett as a world-renowned maestro whose personal life and professional career become upended by her toxic behavior. Blanchett won the best actress prize at the Venice Film Festival and is widely expected to land an Oscar nomination, as is the film for best picture and Field for best director. She just picked up a Golden Globe for best actress in a drama film, and she’s nominated for best actress at the Critic’s Choice Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
“Tár” is now playing in theaters.