Salinger the film — directed and produced by book biographer Shane Salerno, a seasoned Hollywood screenwriter by day — is very much a companion piece to Salinger the book. Since the written word conveys only so much, it’s nice to actually see the oral history participants, who are by turns animated, introspective, even tearful. There’s also an astonishing glimpse of Salinger himself in a never-before-seen World War II-era film clip. But frankly, there’s not much else to look at. Given the sheer lack of existing pictures of the author, the filmmakers were forced to return to the same shots time and again, especially the brooding, iconic black-and-whites. They’ve had to pad Salinger with stock images, and — shudder — they’ve even added cringeworthy History channel-ish re-creations to the mix.
Though an earlier review incorrectly listed the movie’s run time as two and a half hours, Salinger clocks in at two hours and nine minutes, at least 40 minutes too long. Like the book, it suffers from its creators’ obsessive zeal. Only here, you can’t page ahead to the next chapter. C