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Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), the groundbreaking conductor of a major German Orchestra, is at the height of her career as she's preparing both a book launch and much-anticipated live performance of Mahler's Fifth Symphony. She has conducted with the great orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, and New York.
Lydia and her wife, the orchestra's concertmaster, Sharon Goodnow (Nina Hoss), have a young daughter, Petra. Lydia also co-founded of a program to mentor aspiring young female conductors. One of her former students, Francesca, works as Lydia’s personal assistant, in the hopes of one day becoming her assistant conductor. When Lydia is accused of misconduct, her life begins to unravel in an unusual way.