A film about the author J.D. Salinger that was originally shot in 2016 is now released in the UK and is actually not half bad.
‘Rebel in the Rye’ is about J.D. (Jerome David Salinger) and the years leading up to him writing what is perhaps the most famous novel of all time – Catcher in the Rye. It’s a book that almost everyone has read at least once while a million copies are still sold every year.
The film did have its premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and a U.S. release followed – earning an eye-watering pittance of $154,326 total – it was hardly enough to recoup its cost. ‘Rebel in the Rye’ stars Nicholas Hoult as Salinger, but more worringly Kevin Spacey plays his mentor and teacher Whit Burnett. It was in 2017 when Spacey was accused of molesting actor Anthony Rapp when he was young, then more molestation allegations against Spacey surfaced. But if this did not happen Spacey could’ve picked up awards for his performance in this film – he’s fantastic.
We see a young Salinger taking a stab at writing with the encouragement of his mother Miriam (Hope Davis), and much to the dismay of his father Sol (Victor Garber) who wants his son to follow him into the cheese business. With Burnett’s mentorship, Salinger keeps on churning out short stories in the hopes of getting published, amidst the backdrop of WWII. Soon enough Salinger is drafted and is off to war (finding out in the papers this his girlfriend Oona (Zoey Deutch) has ran off with Charlie Chaplin). These events lead to a breakdown where he is sectioned in a mental hospital for the horrific things he saw during the war. But his persistence of writing about a fictional character (Holden Caulfield) keeps him going, keeps him alive until he sees his dream come true, all with the help of his agent Dorothy Olding (Sarah Paulson).
Costumes, set and art direction and the acting are all fine, with Hoult very believable as Salinger, and with strong direction by actor Danny Strong, who also wrote the film. But there is one person who you can blame for the failure of this film. In ‘All the Money in the World’ (2018) all of Spacey’s scenes were redone by the actor Christopher Plummer (who received an Academy Award nomination for his effort). ‘Rebel in the Rye’ could not do this because it already had been premiered and released, so it was too late. This film flopped because of Spacey. But it’s actually quite a good film. If you can overlook that Spacey is in it, seek it out, it’s worth it.
Rebel in the Rye is now available to buy and stream
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.