“My Salinger Year”
Metacritic (7/10) and Rotten Tomatoes (***+)
Think “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006) in the book publishing industry, and you’ve got a pretty good idea what this fact-based personal memoir is all about. When aspiring author Joanna Rakoff takes a job as an administrative assistant at a prestigious, old school New York literary agency, hoping it would help her advance her writing career, she’s disillusioned at being relegated to the role of a glorified secretary. But her creative juices are stoked when she’s assigned to handle responses to the ample fan mail sent to one of the agency’s high-profile clients, the notoriously reclusive J.D. Salinger, with whom she develops a stimulating long-distance creative relationship. The heartfelt story is witty, charming and insightful and will especially appeal to those seeking to launch writing careers of their own. Director Philippe Falardeau’s latest tells an engaging tale, even if it tends to be somewhat episodic at times in its attempt at covering an array of story threads. Nevertheless, it all hangs together reasonably well, thanks in large part to the fine performances of Margaret Qualley, Colm Feore and, especially, Sigourney Weaver as the agency’s often-prickly boss, as well as several whimsical fantasy sequences that keep the narrative delightfully refreshing. Given the subject matter, “My Salinger Year” won’t suit everyone, but those with a literary bent will find it an intelligent, uplifting watch that rises far above much of the cinematic trash being released these days.