After so many years the details have lost their crispness; I can only recall the feelings. High school was such a strange place for me. Spending 8 years with the same classmates in elementary school was my safe haven. Sure there were disagreements and several cliques, but they were minor aberrations in the scheme of things. Being thrown in with students from 4 other elementary schools was overwhelming. Add a schedule of different subjects and classrooms into the mix, I thought I would not be able to navigate the sea of strangers flowing through the hallways of the high school. It turned out the compass that would guide me that first year was my English literature class. Catcher in the Rye was one of the novels that was on our list of required reading. It was in that classroom where all of us freshmen found commonality through Holden Caulfield. I can remember the way he talked and acted was different then anyone else I had read about in elementary school. Here was a character that my classmates and I could rally around; I finally found myself being part of a group. All of us wanted to know who was this author J.D. Salinger but by then there was a mystery building up around the solitary writer. This documentary tried to unravel the secrecy around the reclusive wordsmith. Starting out having the photographer talk about how he shot one of the last photographs of Salinger was a great way to draw in the viewer. I enjoyed the scenes of the New England town where Salinger lived and especially the interviews with the local residents. If the story would have stayed with the local townspeople I think it would have made a more entertaining movie. Having celebrities such as Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master, The Ides of March) and Edward Norton (Fight Club, The Illusionist) talk about Salinger was peculiar to me. However, I found it more interesting when they had some of his contemporaries like Gore Vidal (Myra Breckinrdige, Is Paris Burning) and Tom Wolfe (The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Right Stuff). Due to the little information available on Salinger there was not much this movie could offer. There were long passages where I was bored. With reenactments and the repeated use of the same photos, all I could think of was how Salinger and Holden would have hated this film.
1 3/4 stars