top of page

The Tender Bar (2021)

JR’s (Tye Sheridan/Daniel Ranieri) father is a piece of trash. He’s been absent for most of JR’s life, and he’s altered the trajectory of the young man’s life in a number of ways. The Tender Bar depicts JR’s trek as he navigates his life. His relationship with his Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck) is one of a kind, and their love for one another will propel JR–and their journey together is a bright spot in the ever-changing struggle of life.

The Tender Bar consists of a motley crew of intelligent, sarcastic, and effectively absurd characters that create a simplistically realistic verbal molestation. Their whit, nomenclature, and ability to manipulate language is so incredibly attractive, and the dialogue bleeds from the screen into the real world. The dialogue is perfectly constructed; it’s somehow both hyper realistic and honest, out of reach and accessible–and it appeals to everyone (everyone except for neanderthals that is). The Tender Bar is incredibly sophisticated but completely in tune with what the average consumer can access and understand. It’s real, visceral, and an accurate representation of life as we know it. Absorb it, appreciate it, and understand that through each of the intricacies of The Tender Bar you exist, running parallel to JR’s journey, keeping pace and understanding every single line of this magnificent film.

Every once in a while you come across a film that’s so good and so incredibly touching that you struggle with tears throughout its entirety–The Tender Bar is just that. If I wasn’t tearing up from one of the emotional relevancies, I was fighting back tears as a result of how good the film made me feel. Each and every moment was gripping, and it captures the beauty and the hardship of life in the most rudimentary way possible. Its ability to connect with the everyman is uncanny and a testament to the filmmakers and their abilities, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find a film written quite as well as The Tender Bar.

It just expresses the truth, nothing more, nothing less. The Tender Bar is a masterpiece in just about every way. Every once in a while I circle back to my belief that no film is perfect, and certain films beg me to question my own beliefs. When I get to this point, where a film forces me to question myself–to struggle with whether or not what I’m saying is true–I find myself treading a fine line, trying to determine if this film is really as good as I think, and if, somehow, among my portfolio of films, this may be one of the best films I’ve ever seen. I’ve juggled this thought for some time now, and The Tender Bar, directed by the world-famous George Clooney, truly is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It’s emotionally relevant and rewarding, and it reminds viewers of all that not just cinema can be, but that life can be.

Affleck has always toed the line between average and greatness–I’m not sure there’s ever been middle ground for him. The Tender Bar is his best performance to date in his already illustrious career. He emanates vigor, passion, honesty, and genuine talent that allows everyone around him to be better and do better. Speaking of those around him, Sheridan has quietly made himself present in Hollywood over the course of the past decade in films such as X-Men: Apocalypse and Ready Player One, but this is, without a shadow of a doubt, his breakout role. The world has never seen him like this before, and he captivates viewers through every second of his screen time. The cast is rounded out by a series of other talented individuals that never relent emotionally, and they attract viewers from the opening moments.

You want to know what I hate about this film? It wasn’t nominated for any Academy Awards–not a single one. Affleck should have been nominated for Actor in a Leading Role, Sheridan for Actor in a Supporting Role, Writing (Adapted Screenplay), and, yes, Best Picture. There are some heavy hitters this year among Oscar nominees, but The Tender Bar may just sit high above the rest in a number of ways. I’m not interested in why the film didn’t receive any nominations, I’m simply pissed at the fact that it didn’t. It’s a travesty, but I digress.

Regardless of the nominations (or lack thereof) The Tender Bar is one of the best films of the year (2021). The film appeals to everyone, and it captures the truth of our existence. It’s articulately one of the best films that I’ve ever seen, its emotional relevance is top notch, and the acting is more than effective–it’s pristine. The Tender Bar has instantly landed itself among my favorite films of all time. This is cinema at its best–literally as close to perfect as humanly possible.

Directed by George Clooney.

Written by William Monahan & J.R. Moehringer.

Starring Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan, Lily Rabe, Christopher Lloyd, Daniel Ranieri, etc.




bottom of page