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Canberra
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Now showing: My Salinger Year (M)

Luke McWilliams gives his review of the 2020 drama film, My Salinger Year, starring Margaret Qualley and Sigourney Weaver.

In 1995, Joanna Rakoff (Margaret Qualley), quits her college and leaves Berkeley, California, along with her boyfriend for NYC to pursue her dream of becoming a poet and writer. Looking for work in her field, Joanna takes a job at one of New York’s oldest literary agencies run by the stern and professional Margaret (Sigourney Weaver), whose most famous client is reclusive writer J.D. Salinger.

Based on the memoir of author Rakoff, the movie dances between the grungy but kinetic streets of NYC and the nostalgic, tech-free office where Joanna spends her days reading Salinger’s fan-mail before shredding them and sending impersonal standard replies. The office is warm and inviting to Joanna, so too is the lifestyle: martini lunches, rubbing shoulders with famous writers and finding a mentor in Margaret.

Fighting against the pull to become a literary agent herself, Joanna struggles also to find her own literary voice, while her new boyfriend spends his time writing. It is the disembodied voice of Salinger, however, that encourages Joanna to write at least 15 minutes every day and provides an anchor for her dreams.

Pleasantly meandering and beautifully shot, the movie invokes a comforting nostalgic feeling of idealistic professional hopes and dreams. The story has young Joanna exploring the contrary aspects of NYC and her own inner wants for her personal and professional lives.

Verdict: Less obvious than The Devil Wears Prada. A star-makingrole for its lead. 3.5 stars.

My Salinger Year is showing at Palace Cinemas.

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