Complete A-Z list



Stars: Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, Nina Hoss, Noemie Merlant, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, Kitty Watson, Ed White, Sam Douglas, Alec Baldwin

Director: Todd Field

Blanchett's turn as a world-renowned conductor has already been garlanded with awards and rightly so. She's always in charge of her character here, even when events around her are on less secure ground. Blanchett's brilliance, in fact, may blind her admirers to the fact that film itself isn't very good, slipping too easily into borderline believability.

Lydia Tar (Blanchett), now regular conductor with the Berlin Philharmonic, and a stickler for perfection both before and behind the scenes, is preparing a live recording of works by Mahler, Elgar and others. Her frankness with her students, and her eye for attractive female musicians - even though she is in a seemingly solid lesbian relationship with Sharon (Hoss) - are the architects of her downfall, especially when one particularly besotted student commits suicide.

While ruthless with older colleagues - 'I'm rotating Sebastian (Corduner) out', she declares - her own feet of clay are to prove her undoing.

The minutiae of classical recording may be over some people's heads (and we could surely do with more of the music involved), while the rambling narrative can be as tricky to follow as some of the sotto voce dialogue of its female cast members. Ultimately, the movie descends into the melodramatic and becomes frankly rather preposterous. And by gum, it's long too, with the wheels of its main plot only turning slowly into place.

David Quinlan

USA/Germany 2022. UK Distributor: Universal . Colour by Company 3 .
157 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 10 Jan 2023