#REVIEW: “THE TENDER BAR”
Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
Adapted from J.R. Maguire’s Memoir, The Tender Bar takes a look at a son searching for a father figure. In 1972, J.R (played by Daniel Ranieri as a child and Tye Sheridan as a young adult) and his mother Dorothy (Lily Rabe) move into her father’s house in Long Island. The nine-year-old spends his days searching the radio for the voice of his absent father, who’s a DJ. His uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck) takes him under his wing: introduces him to the charming regulars at his bar and teaches him how to be a respectable man. As J.R. grows up, he pursues his dream of becoming a Writer.
George Clooney’s latest directorial effort is a touching coming-of-age story about a boy yearning for a father-son relationship. The Script spans a long period of time in J.R.’s life. Clooney’s steady direction and the Screenplay written by William Monahan weave the timelines seeamlessly. Although there are heavy themes discussed, the Script is written with comedic scenes. Therefore, allowing audiences time to decompress. The scenes within the bar are a highlight. Clooney brings a rowdy yet tender quality to these scenes that are filled with lively regulars.
The heart of the Film lies between J.R. and charismatic Charlie. Affleck has been giving career-best performances in his recent repertoire, and his portrayal of Charlie is no exception. Charlie’s empathetic and tough on J.R. as a father would be. And Affleck looks like he’s having the time of his life playing him. Affleck works great with both newcomer Ranieri and Sheridan.
Ranieri is a delight to watch in his first big role. His wide-eyed gaze consumes the information Charlie is offering up. His performance is a testament to the impressive ability Clooney has directing emerging talent, which we also saw with last year’s The Midnight Sky. Sheridan is great as an older J.R. experiencing the highs and lows of career and love. Sheridan excels in exposing J.R.’s feelings of inadequacy and desire to carve out a life for himself.
The Supporting Cast give strong performances. Rabe is great as a mother who never got to achieve what she wanted in her career and encourages her son to be the best he can be. The cathartic joy she brings to Dorothy when J.R. gets accepted to Yale is contagious. And Christopher Lloyd gives a strong performance as J.R.’s grandfather. He brings a unique added layer of comedic levity.
Prime Video Canada release THE TENDER BAR in select theatres Friday, December 17, 2021, expanding Wednesday, December 22, 2021 and it arrives on Prime Video Friday, January 7, 2022.
*Please exercise caution observing COVID-19 protocols if seeing this in-theatre*