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George Clooney’s “The Tender Bar”

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In one of the first scenes of The tender bar, the young protagonist JR (Daniel Ranieri) sits on a stool at Dickens, the pub where his uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck) works, and gazes with wide eyes at the many books stacked on the shelves. There are as many novels in this place as there are bottles of alcohol to drink, and Charlie is happy to encourage JR to take an interest.

“Read enough books,” he told his nephew, “and you could become a writer”.

Immediately, adult voiceover narration JR, provided by actor Ron Livingston, bursts onto the scene. “From that moment, announces the future JR, I wanted to become a writer.

From this scene, if not earlier, it’s clear what kind of movie The tender bar Going to be: a sweet, simple, and challenge-free coming-of-age story that looks like a lot of the coming-of-age stories you’ve seen before, but with less depth. Adapted from the memoir of JR Moehringer by screenwriter William Monahan (The dead) and directed by George Clooney, the film, which hits theaters nationwide on Wednesday, follows JR’s development from his childhood through his college days, when played by Tye Sheridan. But really, this story is about the absence of a father figure in JR’s life and how he bridges that gap by forming a warm and slightly flirtatious bond with his Uncle Charlie.

The problem with The tender bar is that he doesn’t fully realize that exploring the nuances of this relationship is the film’s sole raison d’être. Instead of zooming in on JR and Charlie (the most magnetic character in the film, thanks to Affleck) and the code of masculinity that the uncle passes on to the nephew, The tender bar expands, especially in the second half when the narrative shifts to JR’s experiences as a student at Yale and as an adult after graduation. More and more, it feels like the movie ticks the boxes of the book’s plot – here is the part where JR falls in love with another student (Briana Middleton), and here is the part where he gets a job as first echelon in New York Time, and here are the times he faces illness in his family. Too much is hovered over rather than dug deep.

The tender bar begins in 1973 with JR, 11, and his mother, Dorothy (Lily Rabe), returning to their childhood home on Long Island, where a whirlwind of also half-broken parents, including Dorothy’s brother Charlie and her father (Christopher Lloyd), share the modest space. Dorothy and JR came here to escape her bad marriage to the father of JR (Max Martini), an unreliable and abusive DJ known to New York listeners as Voice. Realizing that JR’s dad is careless and that’s probably the nicest thing you can say about him, Charlie pays close attention to the boy, quickly becoming JR’s karateka sensei. Charlie drops important life lessons on him, such as respecting your mother, always keeping a stash of money hidden in your wallet, and, “Never, under any circumstances, hit a woman, even if she stabbed you with scissors. . ” He meets JR where he is and also makes him feel like one of the adults.

Affleck is naturally charming in the role, and the scenes between him and Ranieri are the strongest parts of the movie. Charlie the character is a bit of a conundrum, however. The movie wants us to see him as some sort of hero, the same way JR does. And there are certainly things to love about him: he is clearly very bright, literate, decent and funny. But he’s also a middle-aged man who still lives with his parents and is content to live a life filled with hangovers on Saturday mornings and long days spent serving the same drinks to the same people. There is a feeling that Charlie could have done more with his life and chose not to, but The tender bar never explains why, nor does it consider how Charlie’s own flaws make him, like his sister, so eager to push JR to success.

Clooney seems much more interested in keeping things nice than questioning The tender barmale ethics of or engage in any kind of genuine character study. With the possible exception of Charlie and JR, the individuals in this independent style effort look less like real people and more like first drafts of people. Highlighted by its warm, slightly washed-out visual aesthetic and a soundtrack filled with 70s pop hits from Pablo Cruise and Steely Dan, the understated nostalgia running through the image acts as a common thread, preventing any real engagement with its more themes. gloomy or richer treatment of members of the Moehringer family.

George Clooney took Uncle Charlie’s route with The tender bar. He made a great movie. But given his intelligence and insightful nature, it’s obvious he could have done something more. Instead, he decided to just have a drink, hang out with the boys, and not push himself too hard. This passable but forgettable drama is the result.

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