It probably goes without saying that J.D. Salinger, who spent the last four decades of his life avoiding the public eye, would be appalled at the very idea of Shane Salerno’s new documentary about him. Fans of the media-averse author of The Catcher in the Rye will be even more conflicted: The film is exhaustively researched in a way that’s not only revealing but invasive, as Salerno is often more interested in digging up dirt—and gaining credit for being the one holding the shovel—than in providing any genuine insight. Instead of investigating the disparity between our deified image of Salinger and the reality presented by the unearthed material, Salinger is a voyeuristic assemblage of anecdotes and previously unseen photos. The fact that Salinger fervently rejected the claim that he was a “seer” who could solve his readers’ problems, for instance, is relegated to an afterthought. Had Salerno wrestled with this idea directly, it might have helped make sense of his years-long endeavor. The prospect of being made privy to all this is tantalizing—and the reveal that five new books are on the way is certainly a dramatic one—but absorbing it proves disenchanting.
- Running Time:
- Release Date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013
- MPAA Rating: PG-13
- Critic's Score: C-
- Watch the trailer