The Tender Bar

The Tender Bar
Original title:The Tender Bar
Director:George Clooney
Running time:104 minutes
Release date:17 december 2021
J.R., a fatherless boy, spends hours in the bar run by his eccentric, wacky, and colorful Uncle Charlie, who represents the only father figure around him. While the boy's mother does everything she can to give him opportunities she never had - and thus leave the dilapidated home of his own father, who supports her in spite of himself - J.R. decides to pursue his personal and professional dreams with courage and awkwardness, while always keeping one foot in his Uncle Charlie's bar.

Mulder's Review

Can a good cast and good feelings be enough to make a successful film. The answer is often no and George Clooney's new film is a disappointment because the potential to bring J.R. Moehringer's memoirs to life could have made for a successful biopic. George Clooney is certainly a seasoned actor but until now none of his films has really succeeded in imposing him as a gifted director, whether it be his first film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002) or the following ones, Good Night and Good Luck (2005), Leatherheads (2008), The Ides of March (2011), The Monuments Men (2014), Welcome to Suburbicon (2017) or more recently Midnight Sky (2020) (Netflix).  Despite the undeniable care given to each of his films, the scenario of each one never manages to convince completely, it is the same for The tender bar.

J.R. (Daniel Ranieri, Tye Sheridan) is a young boy whose father abandoned his family several years ago. His mother, unable to earn a living, is forced to move back in with his father (played by Christopher Lloyd, perfect as usual), where J.R.'s uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck) also lives. The latter has gradually imposed himself as his substitute father and has taught him the pleasure of learning, reading many books. Raised in an underprivileged environment, J.R. quickly develops a gift for writing that allows him to enter Yale University and also to obtain a scholarship. Charlie, who keeps an eye on J.R.'s evolution, is the owner of a bar that soon becomes the place where J.R. spends a lot of his time. 

Certainly the will of George Clooney to deliver a biopic on a young journalist and writer could have been an excellent idea as the inspiration that allows to write remains a fascinating subject and as the film says so well, unlike a lawyer, one does not study for and acquire experience as one goes along, being a writer means knowing how to develop one's sense of writing and having a real literary gift that will develop and will lead some of them to have an international recognition. However, William Monahan's screenplay is disappointing because it does not manage to hold our interest completely. To tackle the theme of the passage to adulthood requires to release a certain emotion and in this case despite excellent actors, the film never manages to really take off and create an attractive atmosphere.

It is easy to understand why the worldwide release of this film is made after a short run in American theaters in a small circle of theaters on a streaming platform as this film does not stand out as the best film of George Clooney despite a solid performance of the trio of lead actors Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan and Christopher Lloyd. Accustomed to roles in American blockbusters, Ben Affleck delivers here one of his best interpretations and imposes himself as a really talented actor.

The Tender Bar
Directed by George Clooney
Screenplay by William Monahan
Based on The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer
Produced by George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Ted Hope
Starring Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan, Lily Rabe, Christopher Lloyd, Daniel Ranieri
Cinematography : Martin Ruhe
Edited by Tanya M. Swerling
Music by Dara Taylor
Production companies : Amazon Studios, Smokehouse Pictures
Distributed by Amazon Studios
Release date : October 10, 2021 (LFF), December 17, 2021 (United States, France)
Running time : 104 minutes

Seen on January 3, 2022 (Screener press)

Mulder's Mark: