Critiquing Tar is difficult because the film is very intentional even about the things that may rub an audience the wrong way. It is overlong, but it is deliberately designed in such a way as to acclimate the audience to its spectral presence just beyond the frame. It’s overwritten in some instances, but this is also intentional to derive some justification for the perceived brilliance of the character at its center.
Pearl is a surprising film not just in how it subverts expectations of genre, but also in its capacity for empathy. We all, like Pearl, have the desire to be appreciated. We know our worth. Ti West and company seem to understand that the true horror is never being able to show it.
While I am critical of Glass Onion for its disappointing comeuppance (coming on the back of a satisfying reveal to then suddenly breach the confines of the film’s perceived reality with a swelling conclusion that feels unrealistic and unfortunately alleviates vital guilt from characters who are still culpable), it becomes impossible to diminish the emotional satisfaction at watching this satire acknowledge the pending rage and frustration that the audience has for a large margin of the characters at its center.
The performances are nothing shy of brilliant, particularly Keke Palmer who manages to imbue Peele’s film with a vibrancy that excels beyond even his most alluring characters in works past. The resolution of the film does work to its detriment as it refuses to capitalize on interpersonal dilemmas that set the stage for thematic arcs.
The film’s biggest knock is its inability to speak to everyone as succinctly as it spoke to me. To call it a comedy special is a disservice that sets an expectation for the ‘knee-slapping observations’ to unfold (we will leave the title of ‘Best Comedy Special’ to Michael Che for the year), and viewers with such an expectation are destined to be a bit perplexed by the introspective piece they no doubt got instead. Inside is a film about being inside. It is a film about the people inside who will watch it. And it is a film about the ones inside our heads clamoring for an opportunity to make a joke when no one is laughing in the background.
The first act is a stack of cards, and it is here that we introduce the film’s core downfall which is its ambitious world building that occasionally stretches beyond our ability to grasp the breadth of its implications. But at the end of the day, when all is left but a lonely man and his pig, it grows hard to care about such trivialities as a ‘best films of the year’ list. Unless, of course, you do it for you. And you do it for the people who may smile and remember that one meal or nugget of wisdom that they hold with them today to lift them out of the mud.