Take The Devil Wears Prada and move it from the world of fashion to writing and you’ve got My Salinger Year, which feels like a clickbait title based on how little J.D. Salinger factors into the plot. The lead is Joanna (Margaret Qualley), who moves to New York and becomes an assistant for an overbearing technophobic boss (Sigourney Weaver) at a literary agency. That agency represents Salinger, among others. Joanna gets the job because she claims to not be a writer, despite wanting desperately to be a writer. Take a guess the direction that the film takes.
The film is based on the memoir of the same name by Joanna Rakoff, but the film takes on such a familiar structure with stereotypical characters and weak messaging that it loses any power that the book may have had. You’ve seen this movie before even if you haven’t seen this specific iteration. And this one is dull in comparison. It runs for less than two hours but feels like four. There’s no joy. There’s no fun. There’s nothing for us to latch onto.
The only thing it has to offer are a couple of enjoyable performances from Qualley and Weaver, but it’s hard to recommend a movie based solely on those. It also does that fun thing where the protagonist provides copious voiceover narration to explain things that the movie is too inept to provide us in its actions and events. You can make a good film out of pretty much any story, but sometimes it feels like certain events—like working a boring assistant job that puts you three degrees of separation away from a famous writer—aren’t worth it. My Salinger Year, specifically, feels that way, especially the way it was handled here.
Conclusion: My Salinger Year might not be a story worth telling.
Recommendation: Go watch The Devil Wears Prada again instead of this.
- Rating - 4/104/10