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Genre Documentary

J.D. Salinger is an enigma. The American author shot to fame with The Catcher in the Rye, a novel which continues to sell hundreds of thousands of copies every year. The book, now considered a rite of passage for Americans, was revolutionary in its time and linked to several shootings. However, Salinger was not interested in fame, making the American icon and his subsequent writings a mystery to fans.

Salinger the documentary seeks to uncover motivations for his work, most specifically his masterpiece, The Catcher in the Rye. The film documents events, romances and opinion on the author through a series of interviews with celebrities, lovers, biographers and old friends. They recount personal stories, interactions, sightings and speculate on the reclusive author through the ages.

Whether you've read The Catcher in the Rye or not, Salinger is a fascinating journey. Just like Searching for Sugarman rediscovered the enigmatic Rodriguez like a detective story, Salinger moves along at a quick pace with a driving soundtrack like a creative, resourceful and insightful E! celebrity documentary.

At 2 hours, its quite a stretch for a documentary on such a private author. While there a few slow moments, the filmmakers have kept it fresh with a range of mixed media visualisations, including: old photos, live character sketches and staged presentations. These together with the human interest and sharp weave of talking heads make for compelling viewing.

Jerry Salinger is something of a paradox and so is this documentary, putting a man famous for being a recluse in the spotlight. It goes against his nature and makes the compilation of intriguing content seem somewhat sleazy, like a stalker's scrapbook.

Then, there are some strange blank screens transitions, possibly designed to give the viewer a chance to recoup or a way to divide sections of Salinger's life. Director Shane Salerno avoids on screen text, making the list of interviewees a guessing game and providing more of a flow to the story.

All in all, Salinger is a fascination. The documentary's unprecedented nature makes an interesting conflict with the vehemently private author, whose extraordinary talents and life choices draw unwanted publicity. The enthusiasm of the participants and the filmmaker bring this icon into frame and it can't be all bad if it compels you to read The Catcher in the Rye.

The bottom line: Intriguing

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