I loved the movie, Rebel in the Rye

I don’t care what the reviews say or what the rotten tomatoes score is, I loved the movie, “Rebel in the Rye.” It kept me enthralled from beginning to end.

Maybe it’s because I was and still am a huge fan of J.D. Salinger and his novel and short stories. And maybe it’s because I am a writer.

My first thought as I left the theater yesterday is that I must tell my writer friends to see it. I think every budding writer should see it. The teaching of Salinger’s professor Whit Burnett, a lecturer at Columbia University, editor of Story magazine, and a mentor of young Salinger, played by Kevin Spacey, and the encouragement he got from Dorothy Olding, the loyal agent who supported the young Salinger throughout his career, played by Sarah Paulson, is something all writers should strive for.

This movie also gave me a greater understanding of Salinger’s decision to become a recluse and never publish again. He suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome as a result of his World War II experiences (though World War II vets didn’t know that term yet) that he tried to heal by meditation and living quietly in the country woods. Plus, his great love, Oona O’Neill, the daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill, didn’t wait for him to get home from the war as she promised. She married Charlie Chaplin. However, even with these happenings, the war afforded him enough writing time and inclination to get a good head start on Catcher.

Why he decided not to publish was not explicitly answered in the movie, but I suspect he worried that he couldn’t write another novel that lived up to the success of Catcher in the Rye. Even though his publishers and the public were clamoring for more from him, his agent, Olding, finally changed her tune from publishing is the only thing to publishing isn’t the only thing. That got a chuckle from the movie audience.

Of course not publishing didn’t mean Salinger stopped writing. He also found writing a healing process, and he continued until his death at age 91. I hope that someday, those writings will eventually be published. The world has waited long enough for them.

Rebel in the Rye is a 2017 American biographical drama film directed and written by Danny Strong. It is based on the book J. D. Salinger: A Life by Kenneth Slawenski, about the life of young writer J. D. Salinger during World War II. The film stars Nicholas HoultZoey DeutchKevin SpaceySarah PaulsonBrian d’Arcy JamesVictor GarberHope Davis, and Lucy Boynton.

Here’s the trailer.


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