Set in a Manhattan bar, “The Tavern” is a well-made but inconsequential debut. The trials and tribulations of running a small business are a thin enough thread on which to hang a feature, and pic remains too small in scope to break out of the fest circuit.
Bartender and drifter Ronnie (Cameron Dye) and family-man best friend Dave (Kevin Geer) buy a successful Manhattan bar, cobbling together the money with help from relativesand friends. Things start off well, but initial crowds soon dwindle, and after a bad spell Ronnie and Dave add a top-class chef and music. Pic follows a seesaw pattern as the bar’s fortunes rise and decline, mirroring those of its owners: Ronnie loses new girlfriend Sharon (Kym Austin); Dave loses his day job. Story ends on a scarcely credible upbeat note after the “celebration” of a year in business. Less-than-engaging characterization plus thin storyline are inadequate to carry pic through feature length. Film is bolstered, however, by Kurt Lennig’s fine lensing and Bill Lacey and Loren Toolajian’s moody score.