Skip to main content

Home Culture Culture Film & TV

Cate Blanchett plays a controlling lesbian conductor in the critically acclaimed Tár

Cate Blanchett takes on another formidable lesbian character following her iconic role in Carol.

By Emily Maskell

Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Universal

Following the actor’s wondrous sapphic role in Carol, Cate Blanchett returns to the big screen as a renowned lesbian composer and conductor in writer-director Todd Field’s hotly-anticipated psychological drama, Tár.

The 53-year-old Oscar-winning actor was in attendance as the film premiered at the 2022 Venice International Film Festival earlier this month where she won the Best Actress Volpi Cup, the top acting prize, for her performance in the film. 

Tár‘s Rotten Tomatoes critics score currently sits at a stunning 100% with thirty glowing reviews of the film out of the festival.

In the film, Blanchett plays Lydia Tár, a lesbian composer who is the first woman to conduct a major orchestra in Germany, the Berlin Philharmonic.

Lydia’s wife (Nina Hoss) is also a violinist in the orchestra and together they have a child. Their dreamy life however, becomes blanketed by affairs, stalkers and emotional manipulation as Blanchett’s character desperately searches for a path out of the crisis and the light at the end of the tunnel.

Noémie Merlant, her Carol co-star, appears as a competing conductor alongside other cast members Mark Strong, Sophie Kauernd and Sydney Lemmon.

Blanchett has previously spoken out in defence of straight actors playing LGBTQ+ roles, saying she would “fight to the death” for the right to suspend disbelief.

She once again echoed that perspective during a press conference in Venice, The Daily Beast reported. 

“I think it’s important on a society level. Homogeneity in any art form is death,” she said about portraying dynamic gay women. 

“But I’m very wary of butting up the word ‘importance’ with the word ‘art,’ because I don’t see that artistic practice is an educational too,” she continued. “I think what people do with it after the fact the thing […] is made can be politicised, or disseminated, or discussed, or people can be disgusted with it, or offended by it, or inspired by it.”

“But strangely, I didn’t think about the character’s gender—or her sexuality—at all,” Blanchett added.

She also reflected on her role as the titular Carol in Carol: “Patricia Highsmith’s story was the first story where a woman who loved other women wasn’t redeemed by the love of a man or killed herself, so it’s a seminal piece of work in that and many other respects.”

“At the time of making [Carol], it was just something that we had to make, and so I’m not interested in agitprop,” Blanchett further explained. “Whilst there’s a lot of hot-button topics that come up in [Tár], it is not about any of those things. They’re plot devices.”

Tár is currently set for a UK release date on 23 January 2023.

The Attitude September/October issue is out now.