Tar, The White Lotus, Industry: Women Predators Onscreen

The brilliance or — depending on your point of view — great irritant of Warehouse is the degree to which the film steadfastly remains in Lydia Tár’s POV. With the exception of the very beginning, in which an anonymous person appears to be filming Lydia as she sleeps on a private plane, we are immersed in Lydia’s perspective completely. We witness her getting fitted for her bespoke suits. We see her chatting with the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik about her storied career.

Such a myopic perspective makes it harder to piece out what exactly Lydia did wrong, though it’s clear she did something sexually inappropriate. We slowly learn what may have happened through dream sequences, emails, and eventually a news story. It appears that Lydia once worked closely and had a sexual relationship with a young woman conductor in her mentorship program named Krista. At the beginning of the movie, Krista, we learn from emails, though we never see her onscreen, is desperate to get in touch with Lydia; Lydia warns her assistant Francesca to avoid her at all costs. Krista later kills herself and Lydia’s misconduct eventually goes public, thanks to Francesca, who resigns after learning she will not be receiving a coveted assistant conductor position.

Women Predators Onscreen
Women Predators Onscreen

The last third of the movie seems almost dreamlike, and some have argued that it is in fact a dream, or more accurately a nightmare. Lydia’s reputation sinks and her career goes into freefall as news disseminates about her inappropriate sexual relationships with young women.

Lydia is aware of the foibles of her predecessors; her mentor, it’s implied, had a sex scandal of his own, and history is ridden with abusive artists (Lydia even name-checks a few). Yet even knowing all of this, Lydia appears addicted to exploiting her power. Even as Lydia is dogged by Krista’s ghost — she hears phantom noises and can’t sleep at night — she still sets her sights on a young cellist named Olga. Lydia changes her initial comments on Olga’s blind audition once she recognizes the young woman’s boots, having seen her earlier in the restroom. Lydia offers her a coveted solo, a kind of favoritism that seems second nature to her.

Ultimately the film is so besotted with Cate Blanchett’s Lydia — her composure, her accolades — that it inevitably draws sympathy toward her. She’s successfully “canceled,” banished to an unnamed Asian country to conduct an orchestra playing the soundtrack to Monster Hunt. It’s a dark joke, or maybe it’s all in Lydia’s head, but the point is that it’s her experience we see so clearly. She’s not a clear-cut hero, obviously, but by virtue of the time we spend with her — almost two and a half hours of Blanchett, who appears in virtually every frame — her perspective is prioritized at the expense of any significant thought or care given to her victims.

In IndustryNicole isn’t the only woman with work practices that are troubling at best. In the second season of IndustryYasmin (Marisa Abela), a publishing heir who received habitual sexual and verbal abuse from her old boss, is drawn to Celeste (Katrine De Candole), an enigmatic older woman who works in private wealth management. They meet when they’re both buying cocaine from the same dealer. Yasmin wants to bring her father on as a client in the department. He’s a sleaze — Celeste mentions that he hit on her once at Art Basel, but she wonders if he would even remember her. She tells Yasmin that three of her clients were featured in Jeffrey Epstein’s black book. But that doesn’t stop her from committing her own sexual indiscretions by sleeping with Yasmin, her direct report, mere days after Yasmin formally joins her team. After Yasmin, learning of her father’s own sexual misconduct, decides that she doesn’t want him as their client anymore, Celeste informs her that that won’t do. “I’m too old to work with crusaders. It’s exhausting. The status quo works for us,” she says. And then she reminds Yasmin that she is replaceable.

In the world of Industrywritten by former investment bankers Mickey Down and Konrad Kay, there’s no place for heroes. Each woman looks out for herself—cogs in a well-established system. Even Yasmin, the recipient of so much verbal and sexual abuse from her boss, has no heart for the young grad who comes to her in distress about her experience with the lecherous Nicole.

“Assault is a sliding scale,” Yasmin tells the young grad. “Look, cynically this might even help you. You strike me as pragmatic.” In that sense, Industry’s examination of power is a more recognizable one.

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