Movies & TV / Reviews

Dual Movie Review: Tar and Shotgun Wedding

February 14, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Tar Cate Blanchett Image Credit: Universal Pictures


These are very different movies, linked only by the facts that I watched them both within 24 hours, they are relatively new, and both made me want to do a full-ish-length review. Finding holes in my website schedule are tough, so I’m smooshing these two into one. Let me know if this works for you or if you only want single reviews going forward!

Tar is an artistic, carefully crafted, two-and-a-half hours long character study. Shotgun Wedding is a 100 minute plot- and action-driven RomCom with more interest in one-liners to make the audience laugh than it is in creative direction or usage of the senses.

Image Credit: Universal Pictures

Tar was a must-watch for me when I found out it was streaming on Peacock. By viewing it, I’m down to just four of this year’s Best Picture nominees still to watch (The Fabelmans, Avatar 2, Women Talking, and Triangle Of Sadness… and given that none are streaming yet, I may tap out here). It’s the fictional story of a successful conductor named Lydia Tar and the life she lives and how she affects everyone in her wake.

I was somehow convinced that this was based on… well, if not a totally true story, then at least a true person. And reviews I’ve read after watching it have told me I’m not the only one! But no, Lydia Tar is not a real human being, nor does she seem to be based too much on any one specific person, either (though comparisons to a more musically inclined Harvey Weinstein are inevitable).

We do not get the story of Lydia’s rise; Tar takes place entirely after she has already well-established herself as a legend in the orchestral field. We meet her wife, Sharon, their daughter, Petra, and the other major players in her life, such as her assistant Francesca and new cellist superstar Olga. As she goes about her life preparing for a major concert recording, we see that Lydia has shades of trouble. She can’t sleep, and even during her waking hours, she is powerfully affected by the sounds of the world around her. She seems to have two homes: the massive mansion in which she resides with Sharon and Petra, and also a smaller apartment with a sickly neighbor.

As the movie develops, we find out more about a former student of Lydia’s, Krista Taylor, and how Lydia’s relationship with, and subsequent blackballing of, her led to Krista’s suicide. As more details emerge, Tar’s life shatters, and the final scene shows her settling into a new life that is both tragically devastating and yet far better than she deserves.

Image Credit: Ana Carballosa/Lionsgate

There’s a lot less to say about Shotgun Wedding! Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel are hosting a destination wedding in The Philippines. As they navigate their own insecurities (one subversive aspect is making Duhamel’s character a groomzilla who is demanding a perfect affair for their nuptials), pirates attack. The two are forced to overcome their bubbling strife and work together to save their loved ones… and possibly their relationship.

I remember the trailer for this one being a blast. It spends 30 seconds making it look like any other J-Lo romcom… and then it flips the switch and shows the action-oriented side of things! What starts out looking ho-hum, even for a romcom geek like me, has a-whole-nother layer! As a trailer, it was a homerun.

With supporting roles going to D’arcy Carden, Cheech Marin, Jennifer Coolidge, and Lenny Kravitz, the line-up was certainly a good one. No tropes are broken here, though; the two save the day and rekindle their relationship.

TWO UPS AND TWO DOWNS, abbreviated edition!

TAR: + Cate Blanchett, man. That’s all you need. Cate Blanchett is your typical phone book actress, in that I would watch her read one. She just does not have a level that isn’t “Oscar-worthy”. She elevates every movie in every moment. Tar is a slow film that spends a lot of time doing its own thing, and yet… I was never bored. It was entertaining just watching this true maestro of the screen at work. She is captivating as an actress, and one of the very best to have done it. Her role her gives Lydia feelings of terror, control, indignance, power, charm… that is to say that, like almost all of Blanchett’s characters, she is a wholly realized human being that it’s hard to pigeonhole as just “good” or “bad”. Lydia Tar the character is a bad person as written by the screenplay. But as given life by Blanchett, she is multi-faceted.

I’ll throw a second Quick Up here and say the use of sound and noise and music is brilliant here. The sheer power of sound is present in almost every scene, and it truly gets across how much Lydia’s inability to control all noise like she does her players unnerves her.

SHOTGUN WEDDING: + The movie is successful at everything it tries to do, for the most part. It wants to be fun, and it’s fun. It wants to remind you that Jennifer Lopez is arguably the most attractive human being on the planet, and she is. It just wants to create a breezy flick that you will watch and not regret. For an effort so insistent on painting by the numbers and not rocking the boat, it never really drags or gets tedious. Even in its worst moments, it never gets worse than “watchable, if corny”.

Second Quick Up: Yeah, there is a scene where J-Lo’s character is trying to seduce her soon-to-be-husband the night before their wedding, and… Jesus Christ. I try so hard not to reduce my movie comments to how good looking its stars are like this, but… I’m only human, movie!

TAR: – There are a lot–and I mean A LOT–of moments in Tar that I kept waiting for payoff for, but none ever arrives. Tar’s child is getting bullied at school, so Lydia confronts the bully early on. That plot point is dropped. Lydia hears an assault while jogging, and that is never brought up again. Lydia’s metronome goes off one night keeping her from sleep, and then nothing comes of it. The elderly neighbor in her apartment dies and other than giving us the single most entertaining moment of the movie, it results in nothing. Tar is a 157 minute movie that seems to waste a LOT of time. You don’t even really know what the plot is until about an hour and a half has passed. The first 90 minutes are just… Lydia living her life, going from event to event. It just feels so weird, and by the time you realize what the story is, everything from the first hour or so seems so pointless.

SHOTGUN WEDDING: – I said that at its worst, this movie is watchable. Unfortunately, at its best, Shotgun Wedding is… watchable. I did chuckle a few times, but it takes a while before any of the jokes land. Shotgun Wedding’s Up and Down are almost the same thing: It’s a safe, mid-level effort that sees what works in other flicks and doesn’t go any further than doing the same thing. There’s nothing to hate here, but by March, I’ll have forgotten I even saw it.


Tar is a mesmerizing movie I will never ever watch again because once the “What is going on here?” spectacle is gone, it will just be too long and boring to revisit all of the many scenes that don’t mean anything. But for one watch, it’s hypnotic because of Cate Blanchett just being the best there is at what she does. That said, with two movies this year being all about a lead’s performance–this and The Whale–I think the wrong one got a Best Picture nom: 6.5/10

Shotgun Wedding is even-keeled and inoffensive. It’s swinging just to safely get on first, and it gets there, but after The Lost City last year, I want my ActionRomComs to be a lot better: 5.5/10

And since we talked Tar and I’m at 60% of them watched, here are my updated Best Picture Rankings for this year:

6. Elvis

5. Tar

4. All Quiet On The Western Front

3/2 (it’s a toss-up depending on the day). Top Gun Maverick / Banshees of Inisherin

My #1. Everything Everywhere All At Once

And hey, January is over and I’ve already done extensive lists on my favorite movies of 2022. But do you want to know what my LEAST favorite movies of the year were (which includes two pretty highly regarded flicks that I really don’t get the love for)?

Then check out the SWO Productions Patreon Page where for $3.50/month, you get bonus content like my Worst Of 2022 Movies and Top Ten Superhero Teams!

And if THAT weren’t enough, all Patreons subscribed in the next week will get a FREE SWO Productions tumbler like the [unfinished] one below! Because I’m a generous guy, and my wife likes making crafts. So join now!

Until next time… take care!

article topics :

Shotgun Wedding, Tar, Rob Stewart