SALINGER (2013)

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FEBRUARY 5, 2014

I’ve read THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, but it didn’t change my life as it did for many. I also knew that J.D. Salinger became a recluse and had not written a book in quite some time. The film SALINGER seemed like it might be an interesting documentary to learn more about the man and the impact of the book on the world. 


I was a little underwhelmed not only by the movie, but also the man himself. 


Yes, he set out to write a book that would establish him amongst the literary greats and succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations, but he also had an arrogance that was less than flattering and a predilection for young women who he would toss away like a dime store paperback as soon as he got what he needed sexually and emotionally out of them. 


The movie has its positives. It’s certainly comprehensive when it comes to the people that Director Shane Salerno was able to interview for firsthand stories about the enigmatic writer. They include friends, family members and fans as well as a number of celebrities including the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. 


The problem for me is that the film is more anecdotal than factually informative and even though it presents a plethora of interesting aspects, I was still left not truly understanding Salinger, the man. The only thing that truly stuck with me was that he liked really young girls. No matter how old he got, the women in his life stayed eternally young; a fascinating fact that is never truly explored from a psychological perspective. 


I also hoped for a more in-depth study of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE and how and why it caught on like it did. It is discussed, but only in a superficial way, which was a big reason why this failed for me as a meaningful documentary.