Saturday, September 21, 2013

Movie Review: "Salinger" (2013)

Movie: "Salinger"
Director: Shane Salerno
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours
Image Source
This documentary dives into the life of J.D. Salinger, author of "The Catcher in the Rye," who suddenly stopped publishing and became reclusive after this book became a huge success. This film covers his life as a World War II soldier, aspiring writer, and his interactions with love interests, fans, and himself.

I read "Catcher in the Rye" when I was about 10 years old and BigJ has never read it. We knew nothing about J.D. Salinger going into this film, but the trailer was so captivating that we wanted to see it opening day.

J.D. Salinger was a weird cat. Though he saw a lot of death during the war, it was more than just that: he had inner demons that fueled his writing, from his short stories and novellas published in magazines such as "The New Yorker" (though he was rejected many times in his early life) to only his major novel. As someone who was as reclusive as he was, he sure seemed to almost thrive off of attention, but only if it was on his terms.

He enjoyed the company of girls, VERY young girls, and used them as a source of inspiration for his writing. Many of the relationships he had with these girls became twisted into scenarios and characters for his stories, and once they stepped outside of the "box" he had built for them, he was quick to discard the girls and not think twice about it. Someone online said these relationships seemed platonic...nothing could be farther from the truth to us. These relationships came off as very sexual, though it is not explicitly said so.

He would spend days, weeks, perhaps months in his bunker, writing, becoming engrossed in his characters, ignoring his real life wife and children in lieu of his imaginary, created family. The whole film builds up to Salinger writing "The Catcher in the Rye" and the social impacts and changes it had on society. It does a good job of building intrigue as to what Salinger was writing for 40 years yet remained unpublished. What was he writing that was so important that he felt the need to shut himself off from the outside world?? In the end, Salinger does have a series of works to be published between 2015 and 2020. This movie does an amazing job of making people want to read these unpublished works, though Salinger himself is probably be turning over in his grave at this documentary due to its grandiose and spectacular nature.

For a documentary about one man, one subject, 2 hours is a bit too long. Since he was so reclusive, there aren't many published photos or interviews of him, so the same images kept replaying over and over again and it got a bit tedious. The film is built mainly on interviews with authors, writers, and publishers, friends and lovers of Salinger, and actors such as Martin Sheen, Edward Norton, and John Cusack (though his part was cut); though these big-time actors are in the trailer, their parts, respectively, only add about 5 minutes of interview time to this film.

This wasn't the worst documentary we've seen, but certainly not the best. Salinger has an interesting enough life, but since he passed away in 2010, these are all secondhand accounts, you never once hear anything from his mouth directly. Who knows what is real and what was embellished? Salinger fans might be happy, and people who know nothing about him will probably not think about it ever again. Either way, it's not as bad as critics say.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 4.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 30%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

No comments:

Post a Comment