Andrea’s film review – The Tender Bar

The Tender Bar ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

A boy growing up on Long Island seeks out father figures among the patrons at his uncle’s bar. Available to watch on Amazon Prime.

The Tender Bar is the latest film directed by George Clooney (yes, that George Clooney) and it’s based on a 2005 memoir by journalist J.R. Moehringer, who would eventually grow up to be a Pulitzer-winning writer (and the celebrity ghost-writer of autobiographies for people like Andre Agassi and Prince Harry.

It is essentially a sort of good-hearted coming-of-age story, set in the 1970s, and ‘80s, about the young JR (for Junior) who lives with his mother at his grandfather’s house after her breakup with his dad. His uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck) acts as a surrogate father and will essentially teach him how to be a man and pursuit his dream of becoming a writer.

It is a simple story, which despite the feeling of familiarity (how many times have we seen a family huddled up anxiously waiting to open a letter from a university to see whether the son has been accepted?) has a lot of warmth to it and running at 1 hour and 46 minutes never really outstays its welcome.

The film is told in a non-linear structure, through a series of flashbacks, jumping about from the 1970s and ‘80s. At times some of the transitions feel a bit rushed and even messy and the film often loses its focus, as it tries to cover too much ground (this is the classic thing which would have been better suited to a mini-series and focuses on sub-plots and characters which are actually not as interesting. As a result, many of the side characters end up feeling a bit superficial, just like two-dimensional caricatures. For example Christopher Lloyd, who plays the grandfather,  is really wasted as he’s given much too little to do.

However the highlight of The Tender Bar is Ben Affleck – something I never thought I would ever have said, when I watched Pearl Harbour for the first time, more than 20 years ago.

His portrayal of the affable uncle Charlie lights up every scene he’s in, even when he doesn’t talk and just sits there and stares. He’s just been nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actor, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he nabbed an Oscar nod too.

His presence alone, as well as the warm and loving nostalgic feel throughout, aided by a terrific soundtrack with some great period songs, makes this film a lot more enjoyable than many critics may lead you to believe.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

The Tender Bar is available to watch on Amazon Prime

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also January Books by Anna Klerfalk

See also: Back to the Future: The Musical

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.