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Cate Blanchett Is Wary of ‘Reductive’ Comparisons Between ‘TÁR’ and ‘Carol’

At the 2023 SBIFF, Blanchett said she did not take kindly to a reporter's suggestion that she's "forging a line in predatory lesbians."

Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett at the 38th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for SBIFF

While Cate Blanchett happily accepts the icon status that has been bestowed upon her by fans in the LGBTQ+ community, there are certain comparisons between her queer characters in “TÁR” and “Carol” that bug her.

In a career-spanning conversation at the 38th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which ended with “TÁR” filmmaker Todd Field presenting the 2023 Outstanding Performer of the Year Award, the current Best Actress nominee and two-time Oscar winner said, “I was doing an interview the other day about ‘TÁR,’ and the interviewer, male, said, ‘You seem to be forging a line in predatory lesbians.’ Excuse me?” After getting the clarification that the reporter really was comparing disgraced maestro Lydia Tár to her titular role in “Carol” as a 1950s housewife that begins an affair with a younger woman, Blanchett questioned if the reporter had even seen the 2015 film directed by Todd Haynes.

The actress had said earlier that part of the reason she thinks “Carol” has had a lasting impact is that it featured “a positive ending to a same-sex relationship,” so to hear it compared to her role in Field’s 2022 film about the epic downfall of a musical genius accused of sexual misconduct felt like “such a reductive way to look at that story, and that beautiful, beautiful film.”

Blanchett described the ending of “Carol” as “a lesson in ambiguity” and said, “in my mindset, [when] Rooney [Mara]’s character Therese returns to try and find Carol, but they just see one another across a crowded room. And we knew it had to be incredibly full of possibility.” The star, who also executive produced the film, mentioned that the Oscar-nominated screenplay written by Phyllis Nagy had contained a later scene that was more explicit about the future of Carol and Therese’s relationship. “It meant that the road wasn’t going to be easy, but it was open,” said Blanchett.

Carol, TÁR

‘Carol’; ‘TÁR’

Everett Collection

As for “TÁR,” the actress said the reception to the film has “exceeded our wildest dreams” and that she does not think “there’s any right or wrong way to view the film. […] When you go back in and see it the second or third time, you pick up other different elements.” Having just worked with two-time Best Director Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón on the upcoming Apple TV+ series “Disclaimer,” the actress recalled their first conversation about the current Best Picture nominee. “He said, ‘I’ve seen it three times. I saw it once and I just was blown away,” said Blanchett, doing her best impression of the Mexican filmmaker. “The second time, I was envious. And the third time I went, ‘How the fuck did they do that?’”

However, just as she did with “Carol” earlier, Blanchett offered her interpretation of the “TÁR” ending, which could also be classified ambiguous. “If you’re gonna keep evolving as an artist, you have to have failure,” said the actress, once again getting into the mind of her character. “And so she self immolates in a profound way, and, in a way, starts again with a different access point to the music.”

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