Monika Willi interview: ‘TAR’ editor
“It was an overwhelming experience to read this script,” says editor Monika Willi about Todd Field‘s screenplay for “TÁR.” She was struck by the “preciseness” of it, which helped guide her “because if someone knows what he wants or she wants … this is something that goes a long way.” Now Willi is nominated for an Oscar for Best Film Editing. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“TÁR” tells the story of fictional conductor and composer Lydia Tár (played by Cate Blanchett), who has risen to the top of her field but may lose it all after allegations of misconduct arise. “We didn’t have a lot of conversations about it because he was so clear about what he wanted,” Willi explains of her collaboration with writer-director Field. But he was “there all the time” in the editing room. “Todd and I had a strict routine,” editing in a bubble in Scotland to avoid COVID. And “once we had the first rough cut, we looked at the film more or less every day … so we decided on where it was not working or working.”
The original rough cut was almost three-and-a-half hours long. The process from there was “getting rid of everything that was unnecessary or that was not important for the ride that Lydia Tár was taking.” There was also great attention paid to “when to enter and when to leave a shot. This is a rhythmical decision,” which gets “tighter” as the film progresses and the walls close in on Lydia. That precision craftsmanship in the cutting room has led to the “incredible honor” of her first Oscar nomination. “Yeah, it is overwhelming.”