Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2013
Directed by
Shane Salerno
120 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


Synopsis: A documentary about J.D. Salinger author of possibly the most famous novel of the 20th century.

Salinger has slipped onto our cinema screens completely unheralded, something which usually, and particularly so given the recognizability of its subject matter here, indicates the exhibitors’ lack of faith in its finding an audience.  What would give them doubt? Well, for a start it’s too long by 20 to 30 minutes, burdened by an excess of detail that matches virtually every verbal concept with a visual correlate and prolonged by celebrity and non-celebrity sound-bites and gratuitous re-enactments. Then there’s the melodramatic treatment which on the one hand rests on the unquestioned assumption that 'The Catcher In The Rye' is a kind of literary Rosetta Stone for the post-1950s humanity but on the other was written by a closet sociopath.  The length is definitely a problem, but the second actually makes Salinger worthy of attention even if when Salerno gets on to the role of Catcher in famous murders, notably that of John Lennon by Mark Chapman, it becomes rather sensationalist. When in the latter stages and to the accompaniment of thumping music, titles reveal that Salinger has approved a sequence of posthumous releases commencing in 2015 (he died in 2012) the film strikes its most ill-judged note, a kind of vainglory completely at odds with Salinger's own sensibility.

There’s some interesting material here: Salinger’s experiences in World War II when he endured almost 12 months of frontline combat and took part in the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, a brief marriage to a German woman who appears to have been a Hitler sympathizer, his predilection for young girls, his deep involvement with Vedantic philosophy and so on. The film also impresses for the thoroughness of its research. But there is simply too much reliance on the sheer quantity of chronologically ordered information and not enough effort spent on shaping it into a substantial thesis.

For those interested in American social and literary history and the well-springs of creativity in general Salinger offers some insights. For everyone else it will simply be too much information.




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst