Title – Salinger (2013)
Director – Shane Salerno (Sundown: the Future of Children and Drugs)
Cast – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Judd Apatow, Martin Sheen, Gore Vidal
Plot – A look into the life of reclusive author J.D Salinger whose book The Catcher in the Rye became one of the most popular and influential books in history.
“The great mystery is why he stopped?”
Review by Eddie on 26/09/2014
For a documentary that has at its disposal one of the most intriguing and mysterious figures in modern day history, it’s a mighty shame that Salinger comes off so amateurish and lame, despite an ability to remain watchable thanks to its undeniably juicy content. This juicy content is so full of untapped goodness though, that in the end Salinger can be seen as a missed opportunity to truly get to the bottom of Salinger the writer once and for all.
Filmed by screenwriter wunderkind Shane Salerno who has given us such screen gems as Armageddon and Alien Vs Predator: Requiem, the feeling of Salinger is all over the place with quite shoddy re-enactments and some questionable stock footage making up a large part of proceedings, it’s clear that Salerno struggled to put all the right eggs in the quite large basket. For a film that runs nigh on 2 plus hours, by the films end you still get a niggling feeling that some details where skimmed over or other details played out to long and the things we do find out make us less likely to appreciate J.D Salinger as a person.
I (as many others are) am a big fan of Salinger’s work on Catcher in the Rye and while there are some interesting aspects and info shed about the book you can’t help but feel a slight sense of sadness knowing that the man who wrote this novel was such a basket case of a human being. Parts of the documentary focusing on Salinger’s personal life and preference for much younger women than he is, paints him as a preying type of male and his treatment towards his family and encounters with fans again displays him as a quite nasty human being. Whenever these aspects of the film take centre stage it makes it mighty hard to care for the story and the story works best when the focus is on Salinger’s early life in the army and his return to normality afterwards. Other aspects of the film such as a horrid score and some random talking heads who have no real right being there again detract from a bizarre tale.
Finishing off with some revelations and giving an insight to the man who wrote one of the most loved books of all time makes Salinger a passable film but one that can easily be written off as a misfire and with years spent on its construction it’s hard to imagine how such a mundane effort was produced as the final product. For diehard fans only, the rest of us would be well advised to read the man’s famous novel once more.
2 and a half New Yorker rejection letters out of 5