I came across the above description of Todd Field’s Tar yesterday — an analogy between Cate Blanchett‘s Lydia Tar and Daniel Day Lewis‘s Daniel Plainview.

The seed appeared in Jessica Kiang‘s 9.19 Film Comment roundup of the Venice Film Festival ** (“Venice ’22: Women on Fire“), to wit:  “For over a decade I’ve wondered, off and on, when we would get a female movie character to equal the ferocity, charisma, and monumental destructive narcissism of There Will Be Blood’s Daniel Plainview. Though the two films could not be more different, I think I can stop wondering now. Lydia Tár would drink your milkshake without ever thinking it might not be hers to drink.”

Kiang’s month-old essay doesn’t mention “Girlboss” though.  (Before failing to note the URL, I thought I had read “Bosswoman” or “Bitchboss”.) It comes, I’ve just been told, from a 10.15 Letterboxd piece by Brenda Nowicz. Hats off. (And thanks to “LightInfa” for the heads-up.)

I know that the There Will Be Blood association opened something up. A little light bulb switched on. One could even make the claim that the final shot in that Asian ComicCon gathering in Tar is equivalent to Daniel Day Lewis’s final TWBB line — “I’m finished!”

Tar may be a “monster”, as Kiang calls her, but over the decades I’ve been in the orbit of several such headstrong egoists, male and female alike, and when you become a big, wealthy visionary cheese such behavior sometimes (but not always) goes with the territory.  Regrettable and possibly unpleasant for certain parties, but not evil.  Kiang is one of those who regards Lydia Tar”s third-act takedown by woke “robots” as a justified thing.  That, to me, is horrifying.

Tar is a piece of work, all right, and I wouldn’t want to get too close to a real-life counterpart for fear of stray venom pellets, but she’s not that awful — her behavior has been observed among many headstrong creators.  Nearly ever powerful person in world history, especially the creatively powerful and world-famous, has used his or her power to persuade attractive young people to fuck or pleasure them or serve as arm-candy. They’ve all done it. Lydia Tar is no different. Way of the big, bad, grown-up world. And after you turn 20 you have to figure that stuff out.

Plus I”m still bothered by the fact that Field doesn’t allow a single sexual vapor into the film — he asks us to supply our own imaginings.

**Thanks to “SlashMC.”

Friendo: “I don’t really see the comparison. Lydia Tar is an infinitely more supple and layered character. And as you keep pointing out, she’s not really a monster (which Daniel Plainview is). Only in the minds of woke scolds like Jessica Kiang does the Tar/Plainview comparison hold water.”