Female conductor referenced in ‘TÁR’ slams the film as ‘anti-woman’

Renowned conductor Marin Alsop says the film offended her “as a woman,” “as a conductor,” and “as a lesbian.”

Marin Alsop, the renowned conductor referenced by Cate Blanchett in TÁR, has slammed the acclaimed drama as “anti-woman.”

Alsop said the film’s premise — centered on a lesbian conductor at the height of her career being accused of abuse by young women — offended her “as a woman,” “as a conductor,” and “as a lesbian” in an interview with The Sunday Times.

Comparisons have been drawn between Blanchett’s fictional Lydia Tár and Alsop: Both are Leonard Bernstein prodigies, married to fellow orchestral musicians, and lead prominent orchestras. One key difference between the two is that Tár, the character, has been accused of sexual misconduct.

“I first read about it in late August and I was shocked that that was the first I was hearing of it,” Alsop said. “So many superficial aspects of TÁR seemed to align with my own personal life. But once I saw it I was no longer concerned, I was offended: I was offended as a woman, I was offended as a conductor, I was offended as a lesbian.”

Cate Blanchett stars as Lydia Tár in director Todd Field’s TÁR, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of Focus Features

Cate Blanchett in ‘Tár’

| Credit: Focus Features

“To have an opportunity to portray a woman in that role and to make her an abuser — for me that was heartbreaking,” Alsop said. “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. People ask, ‘Can we trust them? Can they function in that role?’ It’s the same questions whether it’s about a CEO or an NBA coach or the head of a police department.”

She called the film anti-woman. “There are so many men — actual, documented men — this film could have been based on but, instead, it puts a woman in the role but gives her all the attributes of those men. That feels anti-woman. To assume that women will either behave identically to men or become hysterical, crazy, insane is to perpetuate something we’ve already seen on film so many times before.”

Alsop is referenced in the film’s opening sequence, during Tár’s interview with New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik: “As to the question of gender bias, I have nothing to complain about,” Blanchett’s Tár says. “Nor, for that matter, should Nathalie Stutzmann, Laurence Equilbey, Marin Alsop, or JoAnn Falletta. There were so many incredible women who came before us, women who did the real lifting.”

Cate Blanchett in TAR


| Credit: Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

Director Todd Field previously spoke to EW about the decision to examine the film’s themes from a female perspective. “I think that it’s fairly clear that the times that we’re living in, that the lens of the great white man is a fairly well-viewed prism,” Field said. “And I think that by looking through that prism, there’s a lot of very simple defaults in terms of how we examine certain ideas and look at some ideas and potentially have a conversation that’s rather limited.”

“So I wasn’t really interested in doing that,” he continued. “I wanted to really talk about power and about the structures that are the pipelines that are in place for power — in this case in a kind of temple of art — and really look at power itself and try to get beyond the stop sign of classification in terms of man, women, or whatever, in terms of objectifying the prism in that manner.”

Blanchett added, “It’s very rare that you receive a script that is so perfect in every way, linguistically, visually, rhythmically. . . [Lydia] believes in the power of being the exception. And she wants the chance to fly. But also I think the Achilles’ heel and the Greek nature of this is that once you reach the peak of a mountain, the only way is down. And so there’s a willful destructiveness as much as there is a very strong creative urge in her. For me, that’s where the film really lives.”

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