HOLLYWOOD—This is a movie I have heard plenty and I mean plenty of buzz about for weeks, so I just had to see “Tàr” starring one of our greatest actresses still living, Cate Blanchett. This woman knows how to deliver a performance on the screen. She was amazing in “Blue Jasmine,” and she is poised to be the frontrunner yet again for her performance as conductor Lydia Tar in this drama that is a major slow burn, but if you allow yourself to get invested it is well worth it.

One, I love the concept of this movie diving into the world of conductors something that I cannot recall ever seeing in the cinematic arena. It is indeed an interesting story to tale, and not just because it is about a conductor, it is about a female conductor who is at the height of her career, but scandal is about to come Lydia’s way.

I had the impression that this film might be similar to “Whiplash” starring J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller, with a music teacher who is just wicked to his students and pushes them to their absolute limits. “Tàr” is not that flick. You get a slight taste of Lydia’s wicked ways while she teaches a course and scolds a student who later calls her some not so kind words because he allows his political thoughts to cloud how he conducts. The one thing Blanchett does so well are these epic monologues where she is just talking for periods of time, but her verbatim cuts deep; it is powerful and it resonates with the audience.

However, secrets are coming to light as Lydia prepares for an epic performance and she tries to keep the chaos that eventually boils over. Lydia has been accused of grooming her students and people who work for her in exchange for sexual favors. What director Todd Field does with precision here is allude to such accusations, where you suspect it could all be a witch hunt, but at the same time, you have that lingering effect where you suspect something might be afoot, but you don’t have the confirmation.

At first her relationship with wife, Sharon (Nina Ross), who is solid in a supporting role feels authentic, but the viewer begins to suspect foul play as the story plays out. It builds with tension as the accusations arise. The spectator gets a slice of how much of a perfectionist and controlling Lydia can be thru her assistant, Francesca (Noemie Merlant), who seems to be on edge all the time when she is around Lydia. She is afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing to upset her boss. It is a fear so palatable that it reminds the viewer of that boss from hell that you never know what can or might trigger them. It is really solid work from Merlant in the role.

As Lydia prepares for her performance at Mahler’s 5th Symphony, she starts to spiral. The symphony where she is conducting began to whisper, the school she works for is preparing for legal action, the tension is building to a feverish pitch.  There is conflict within the symphony, people are chatting about her favoritism towards certain people, as seen first-hand by her selection of Olga (Sophie Kauer). Lydia is very perceptive and her focus on Olga makes it clear to the viewer there may be some truth to the accusations being lodged against Lydia and that she has an attraction to this woman and it’s not just because she thinks her musical skills are talented.

Blanchett does exceptional work conveying a range of emotions in a character that is so flawed, so troubled by her present and past that it culminates with climax that stuns you. I will not spoil it, but as a fan of cinema I appreciated seeing the inner workings of an orchestra and how music is composed. It may seem easy to people who have no idea of what it takes to compose a movie, but it is not. All it takes is one wrong move by one person and it impacts everything. Field does exceptional work immersing the audience into a world that is quite foreign, but makes you feel part of it by using music in the most unexpected ways to draw you in. At times you feel like you’re watching a drama that shifts to a mystery that then shifts to a high-octane thriller.

“Tàr” is a film that can lose your interest, there are moments where there is a dull in the narrative, but that is expected in a score or music, which the movie attempts to convey before the buildup comes yet again. Powerful drama with exceptional performances all around that will indeed leave people talking. Blanchett is the star and every moment she is on the screen which is nearly the entire movie she controls and dictates every scene with precision that is just haunting, scary and fantastic to watch.