It’s Literary (Film Thoughts: My Salinger Year)

It would probably be too easy to compare Phillippe Falardeau’s ‘My Salinger Year’ to ‘The Devil Wears Prada.’ The similarities are there – a young woman working as an assistant in publishing, and their struggles with tyrannical bosses. Unfortunately, though, Falardeau’s film has none of the zip and joy of that film – what we have here is a tepid adaptation of Joanna Rakoff’s 2014 memoir. (I have not read the memoir but know it enjoyed success)

The problem is that the story is all meh. Rakoff is a wide-eyed young woman who starts working for a successful literary agent (Phyllis Westberg in real life) but while we see her icy boss Margraet handing her menial tasks, it is a wasted opportunity for Sigourney Weaver to give a juicy performance. Yes, I know she was probably going for a more muted performance, but it would have been the only spark in the otherwise borign script.

It touches upon the mystique of J D Salinger, who was probably as popular for reclusiveness as his work. Tasked with reading his fan mail, Rakoff starts answering some of his more interesting mail. But the film also never takes on that plot line, relegating it to a side storyline as well as her sleep-inducing love stories.

I like Margaret Qually’s previous work – she always shines even in small roles – but I am totally unconvinced by her here. The underdeveloped Joanna doesn’t help her. I was looking forward to this film but ended up totally disappointed by it.

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