George Clooney's directorial career has certainly been dwindling of late, frustrating after it got off to a particularly strong start. With The Tender Bar, Clooney is back behind the camera and with Ben Affleck leading the film can it reignite his directorial flame? 

Jr. (Tye Sheridan) seeks a replacement for his father, who disappeared shortly after his birth, and bonds with his uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck) and the patrons at a bar in Long Island. Uncle Charlie works as a bartender there and knows all of the staff and regular patrons. He is a charismatic individual and all of his friends are eager to initiate Jr. into their rituals. Jr. listens closely to the stories of these men and relies on these stories for guidance on how to live.
Rather sadly, The Tender Bar is nowhere near good enough to make it stand out as a return to form for Clooney behind the camera. It's a perfectly adequate film and not bad by any means but that's it, slowly meandering to an ending that neither overwhelms or leaves you unsatisfied. It just ends and sometimes that's acceptable. 

William Monahan's coming-of-age screenplay based off the memoir of the same name by J. R. Moehringer is a mildly entertaining one but there's no denying it's hindered by the lack of any sort of angle that makes this feel like a worthwhile tale to tell. There's nothing really new or inspiring about these characters that makes them compelling in the slightest, making it feel like a bit of a slog to sit through, even though it only runs for less than two hours.

Coming to the performances, Ben Affleck is the star of the show as Jr.'s uncle, Charlie, the owner of a bar where Jr. likes to form a bond with both its patrons and his uncle. Affleck is always capable of delivering a fine performance and on this occasion there's no denying his presence excels the film to greater heights than if he wasn't in it. He is a great director too so it would have been interesting to see what else he could have done with this instead of Clooney. Tye Sheridan is one of those actors who you feel should have a much more prominent career than he has at the moment, particularly after coming on to the scene ten years ago in films such as Mud and Joe. In The Tender Bar, Sheridan just doesn't feel the right fit for this film and that only adds further to making this feel like a bit of a slog.

Is it the worst film you'll see all year? Not by a long shot. It's just not a very interesting film with anything new to say, making it feel a little bit pointless in all honesty.

Verdict: ½


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