George Clooney is a man of many talents, including directing, and in The Tender Barhe directs a light-hearted memoir film that reminds us that life is not easy, but we need to find ways to overcome our struggles.
The Tender Bar is about a boy named J.R., played by Tye Sheridan, who is living in Long Island and trying to find people to fill the void of his often estranged, alcoholic father. His Uncle Charlie, played by Ben Affleck, owns a bar that J.R. spends much of his childhood around, and where he learns many valuable life lessons from his uncle and the bar’s colorful patrons. J.R.’s troubled but determined mom is played by Lily Rabe.
As he grows up J.R. has a goal to be a journalist and get into a good journalism school, but he faces many setbacks in his quest. He keeps pushing himself for success, though, and he realizes that his personal story of growing up without a father figure and being around his uncle’s bar is interesting, and writing the story can help him grow as a journalist and a person.
The Tender Bar is empathetic and encouraging on many levels. It is a film that will make many people think about the hard moments of their life, and how to keep moving forward and find joy despite the difficulties. It was not my favorite film directed by Clooney, and it can be slow at times, but Ben Affleck delivers a knockout performance as J.R.’s role model and the story itself is touching and brilliant. Three and a half stars for The Tender Bar.