Following last night’s Academy screening of Todd Field‘s TAR, Cate Blanchett and costars Nina Hoss and Sophie Kauer joined The Frame‘s John Horn for an on-stage discussion.

The immediate reaction in the room was “what’s with Blanchett and Hoss wearing identical Mondrian outfits?” But according to an HE friendo who attended, Horn never even mentioned the identical outfits, much less asked what was behind the coordination.

HE to friendo: Tar is a fascinating if infuriating film, and Average Joes and Janes are going to find it mystifying and irksome. It refuses to tip its hand or lay its cards on the table. It’s a high-toned tease.

The almost uniformly rave reviews for this elegant but annoyingly oblique film are why people don’t trust critics.

I was totally shattered when I saw it in Telluride. I was expecting to be turned on and perhaps illuminated or even levitated, but it was so reluctant to offer specific comprehensions and tie it all together for the sake of the dumb-asses that it damn near broke my heart.

It’s going to die when it opens wide.

Friendo to HE: I was transported by the paranoia. Totally had me in fear.

HE to friendo: That was excellent, I agree. A very palpable sense of paranoia. But what had actually happened with the girl who [redacted]? Who had rejected whom?

Friendo to HE: The trailer was completely a lie.

HE to friendo: In what sense a lie?

Friendo to HE: It sold a completely different film experience. Bald-faced lie.

HE to Friendo: But it looked and felt so ravishing…the flush autumnal vibes of Berlin and New York were intoxicating.

Friendo to HE: But I loved the film.

HE to friendo: What was with the big black dog? And the attractive Russian cello player wasn’t even attracted to Lydia, and who ate her lunch like a peasant?

Friendo to HE: The dog was her paranoia. She knew she’d done stuff that was going to catch up to her.

HE to friendo: Not one single erotic scene. Not so much as a slight hint of sex. In that sense a curiously barren experience.

Friendo to HE: Lydia was clearly grooming her.

HE to friendo: But to no avail. So who cares? It was a blind alley, a dead end.

Friendo to HE: I cared. Because there would be another Lydia + young woman relationship.

HE to friendo: 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.

Friendo to HE: Except now those powerful seducers will be destroyed by the New Puritanism.

HE to friendo: Lydia was a brilliant, arrogant, egoistic handful but she didn’t deserve career ruination.

Friendo to HE: The film is an anti-woke manifesto.

HE to friendo: It actually seemed to hesitate on that front. I thought it might be anti-woke but it held back.

Friendo to HE: Not sure it held back.

HE to friendo: Respectful disagreement.

Friendo to HE: It only held back because Lydia was as much a catalyst as a victim.

HE to friendo: Loved Blanchett, of course. But desiring various sexual conquests often goes hand in hand with being a genius or a powerful person. Geniuses want what they want, and they often get it. It’s been the way of the world for centuries.

Friendo to HE: It WAS the way of the world.

HE to friendo: So we’re all going to trudge through the freezing snow of the woke gulag for the rest of our lives? Terrific.

Friend to HE: It will pass with the nuclear winter.

HE to friendo: You think Mozart didn’t have his way? You think Leonard Bernstein didn’t go there? You think Isadora Duncan and Picasso and Tallulah Bankhead weren’t total hounds? You think Marlene Dietrich didn’t use her fame and power to seduce women and men left and right?

Friendo to HE: Of course. But this is now.