J.D. Salinger was famous for his novel “The Catcher in the Rye” which was also his most significant work, one that still today captivates the public, especially young readers. “Rebel in the Rye” directed by Danny Strong attempts to capture Salinger’s struggle with his own internal conflicts, certainly accentuated after his war experience and his unhappy love life. Salinger (Nicholas Hoult) came from a well-to-do family, his father (Victor Garber) wanted him to get into business to eventually lead his company. Salinger hadn’t fit yet in any college, and when he finally gets into Literary Studies at Columbia, he will meet professor Whit Burnett (Kevin Spacey) who would eventually become his mentor, critic, and the one who would push Salinger into a career as a writer.
It is during that time that Salinger also meets who would become the great love of his life, Oona O’Neill (Zoey Deutch), the daughter of Eugene O’Neill, who despite being a minor at the time, would frequently be present at the many social functions attended by artists and literary celebrities of the day. Salinger wasn’t yet published when the two met, but eventually, there would be a love relation, one that would carry sad memories to Salinger. The U.S. finally enters the war and Salinger enrolls in the army. It was during his stay in England waiting to be sent to action when he would learn by reading the paper that his beloved Oona had married Charlie Chaplin, then 54. The war, on the other hand, would provide material for his novel and his short stories. Eventually, he would publish his book, would marry another beautiful lady, had a daughter, and decided to move to the countryside. That house, at first a place for a quiet stay far from the city, would eventually become his ultimate home and place of reclusion, refusing to give interviews and isolating himself from almost everyone.
“Rebel in the Rye” provides a good insight into what is known of the life of J.D. Salinger. It re-creates the period accurately and also gives some interesting views about the literary world of that time in the United States. This is a film that may interest people who like literature and those who want to know about the life of this reclusive author which until now continues to be one of the most celebrated American authors of all times.
Length: 116 min.