The much anticipated documentary chronicling the life and work of Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger premiered at the Telluride Film Festival this past weekend. The film is the product of 10 years of interviews, research, and general hard-nosed digging into the life of the reclusive author, who passed away in 2010. And an interesting life it its. Salinger purposely avoided the public eye, and several questions about the man still remain unanswered. Director Shane Salerno (who also co-wrote the accompanying 700 page biography) labors to connect the dots and shed as much light as possible upon his subject.
Those excited by the mystery surrounding the documentary will not be disappointed. Marlow Stern of The Daily Beast described the film as, “equal parts fascinating and exploitative, but one can’t deny the astounding level of comprehensiveness on display.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg seems to agree with this statement, but believes that while fascinating, Salinger is too exploitative: “While I respect and appreciate the biographical elements of the film…I feel much more conflicted about other parts of it that veer into tabloid-territory and brazenly violate the privacy that he fought so hard to protect.”
Even with his troubled feelings surrounding the documentary, Feinberg admits that the film’s biggest revelation – that J.D. Salinger crafted five unpublished works during his life that will be posthumously published between 2015 and 2020 – “is certainly one of the most significant to ever hit the literary world.”
Salinger looks to be a serious contender come Oscar season, but will face steep competition from a field of other worthy documentaries including 20 Feet from Stardom, The Unknown Known, Cutie and the Boxer and Inequality for All.
Salinger will open in select theaters on September 6.