Salinger (PG-13) 120 minutes A-
A Broken Man
Starring (Documentary): Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, Judd Apatow, Edward Norton, Martin Sheen, Tom Wolfe, Gore Vidal, Jean Miller, A.E. Hotchner, Joyce Maynard, A. Scott Berg, and Margaret Salinger.
Let me start by saying that I never read The Catcher in the Rye. I tried reading it 15 years ago, but my expectations were so high it didn't stand a chance. After reading several pages I put the book down and never picked it up again. Going into this film I practically knew nothing about J.D. Salinger. This documentary, which has garnered a rash of lukewarm reviews, was completely enthralling. I have a tendency to gravitate toward talented and tormented writers and Salinger definitely fit the bill. Among other things, the film revealed that Salinger was an intensely private and reclusive writer whose fame afforded him the luxury to seduce vulnerable young women. It also revealed the traumatic experiences he endured during WWII. Salinger likely suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) before it became commonly known as such.
The documentary is filled with reenactments, talking heads and still photos of Salinger because he was never keen on publicity. As a result, the film feels second tier and a little History Channel-ish. Nevertheless, it is full of personal drama and the type of tortured writer stuff I love. Salinger definitely inspired me to give The Catcher in the Rye another chance. This documentary is recommended for all you literary types, while others should proceed with caution.