Cate Blanchett is at the top of her game in this drama where orchestral politics and sexual intrigue come together to bring a brilliant conductor down from the heights of Mahler’s Symphony No 5 to incognito status providing sci-fi music for a cosplay enacted in Manila (or is it Bangkok?)
Set for the most part in Berlin, this film may well set a trend for making that city the preferred site for high-culture noir films, much like it was for Cold War noir and Weimar apres-moi-le-deluge movies. There is something about Berlin’s grit, grey, and steely post-modernism that lends itself to films marked by moral ambivalence or weariness. I’ve loved Berlin ever since I did my dissertation, which dealt in part with the collapse of the Weimar Republic. In fact, it’s my favorite city–next to Bangkok, of course.
But back to Cate, she’ll probably snag the Best Actress award, again, and Tar will give The Banshees of Inisherin a run for its money. The only problem with this film is after building up Mahler’s No 5 as the quintessence of classical music, it teases and leaves you only with snippets of the symphony as performed in rehearsals. That’s unforgivable to one who can’t get enough of Mahler. One is not asking for the full 1-1/2 hours; just four minutes of the incomparable addagieto or fourth movement.