'The Tender Bar' Ending Explained: JR lets go of his past to embrace the future

Although it is not exactly validation that JR seeks from his father, he soon realizes that he needs to let go of him entirely

                            'The Tender Bar' Ending Explained: JR lets go of his past to embrace the future
Tye Sheridan as JR in 'The Tender Bar' (YouTube/ Amazon Prime Video)

'The Tender Bar' tells the story of a young boy named JR (Tye Sheridan), who grows up in Long Island, raised by his mother and her family, on account of an absentee father. Out of all the members in his home, Uncle Charlie (Ben Affleck), his mother's brother, seems to have the most profound impact on the boy, nurturing his love for reading and encouraging him to write, shaping him into the man he ultimately becomes.

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JR fulfills his mother's dream of going to Yale but soon realizes that he does not want to be a lawyer, but a novelist. However, he still isn't ready to fully commit to it as he doesn't think he has what it takes. After losing his job at the New York Times, he turns home in the hope to pursue this dream. After meeting with a sick Uncle Charlie, JR decides to go meet his father, whom he refers to as 'The Voice' (Max Martini).

While The Voice claims to have changed, having given up drinking, JR sees that above all else, his father is in denial. It is only until his father assaults his girlfriend Kathy, that it dawns on JR that he needs to end this relationship once and for all. For him, his father was always an enigma, the voice on the radio that he was chasing. However, Uncle Charlie's 'male sciences' rule was something JR held close to his heart and to never hit a woman was among these rules. JR finally leaves and goes back to Long Island, ready to commit to his dream. Uncle Charlie is largely supportive of him, encouraging him to go ahead and gives him one last gift -- the keys to his car.


The patrons of The Dickens bar egg JR on, seeing that they have witnessed him go from being a child to a man. JR drives off while contemplating what it is to be a writer, seeing that there is no degree or diploma to it -- once you decide to be a writer, you are. After years of self-doubt, JR finally realizes that to be a writer all he has to do is prove it to himself, at least. He even jokes about how publishing is moving toward memoirs, bringing the movie full circle. 

'The Tender Bar' is streaming on Amazon Prime Video from January 7, 2022. 

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