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An ambitious but laughably overwrought attempt to tell the life story of J.D. Salinger -- author of “The Catcher in the Rye,” hermit of Cornish, NH, literary beacon to generations of readers -- “Salinger” proves mostly that first-time director Shane Salerno is way out of his league. There are appearances by Salinger’s literary peers (A.E. Hotchner, the late Gore Vidal) and, more puzzlingly, Salerno’s Hollywood friends (Martin Sheen, Judd Apatow).
Since the director can’t quote from any of the works, Salinger’s own voice is grievously missing, but that’s the least of the problems. Burdened with ludicrous dramatic re-enactments and an overbearing orchestral musical score, the movie epitomizes everything in the culture from which Salinger himself fled. It is, as Holden Caulfield would put it, phony.