Metascore
40

Mixed or average reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 28
  2. Negative: 11 out of 28
  1. Reviewed by: Chris Willman
    Sep 3, 2013
    83
    Given that this isn’t the extended TV mini-series that the subject deserves, Salinger does an effective job of making the writer seem alternately more mundane and more mysterious, almost at the same time.
  2. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Sep 2, 2013
    83
    In its revelations of Salinger's flaws, the documentary capably strips away the fanaticism associated with his books to create the impression of a human being.
  3. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Sep 20, 2013
    80
    This much is sure: Salinger would have hated this movie. But he would have hated it for the very reason that others will like it: because it takes an honest-to-goodness crack at unlocking that mystery of a man and at answering key questions the publishing world and the reading public have been asking ever since he forsook them. Nothing phony about that.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Sep 19, 2013
    75
    This documentary reconstructing the life of the ultimate cult author is like a three-act thriller, and the character at the center of the story is a mute man of mystery. Salinger would have recognized the irony, even as he hated the film for invading his privacy.
  5. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Sep 19, 2013
    75
    Despite its considerable flaws, Salinger is a valuable and engrossing biography of the author.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Sep 6, 2013
    75
    By turns fascinating and infuriating.
  7. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Sep 6, 2013
    75
    Insightful gems are unearthed throughout the flawed but engrossing Salinger,a much-anticipated documentary about the author of The Catcher in the Rye.
  8. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Sep 19, 2013
    63
    It is by turns illuminating, exasperating, sloppy, redundant, a head-spinner, and a headache.
  9. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Sep 5, 2013
    60
    Salerno, as if he's unsure of what he's got, goes to great lengths to heighten the drama with crisp editing, a strong score, frequent sound effects and snappy visuals.
  10. Reviewed by: Stephen Farber
    Sep 4, 2013
    60
    Although it is overlong, it manages to be fascinating for much of its running time. But it also disappoints on many counts, providing another example of hype outpacing actual achievement -- a syndrome that Salinger himself would probably have deplored.
  11. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Sep 3, 2013
    60
    Though there’s no shortage of biographies on the notoriously private writer, no one has had the stones to try making a comprehensive visual documentary on someone as camera-aversive as the Catcher in the Rye author. The effort itself should be applauded.
  12. Reviewed by: Michael Ordona
    Sep 19, 2013
    50
    Salinger does what so many documentaries and biopics either fail to do or decline to attempt; it speculates convincingly on the connective tissue between the life and the work of the subject.
  13. Reviewed by: Tina Jordan
    Aug 28, 2013
    50
    At two hours and nine minutes, Salinger is at least 40 minutes too long, suffering, just like the book, from its creators' obsessive zeal. Only here, you can't page ahead to the next chapter.
  14. Reviewed by: Kyle Ryan
    Sep 5, 2013
    42
    When Salinger succeeds, it’s in spite of Salerno’s heavy hand and because of the implicit intrigue of J.D. Salinger’s life story. For a director who clearly reveres his subject’s work, he doesn’t grasp how the flashy, eardrum-busting pomp and circumstance of his film is exactly the kind of thing Salinger abhorred.
  15. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Sep 18, 2013
    40
    Salerno spends more time talking to photographers with telephoto lenses who, over the decades, laid in wait for Salinger in the hope of capturing a grainy picture, than he does talking to literary analysts and historians.
  16. 40
    The fact that the movie’s focus is how and why he renounced the world, moved to Cornish, New Hampshire, and stopped publishing makes it worse, somehow. Salerno probably didn’t mean it this way, but he gives you the impression he came to mock his subject: We’ve got you now, you antisocial bastard.
  17. Reviewed by: Andrew Barker
    Sep 4, 2013
    40
    It’s difficult to get past the film’s restless, ill-fittingly bombastic style.
  18. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Sep 22, 2013
    38
    Salerno blows little more than smoke in this one, especially near the end, when we get to the maybe-probably-sort-ofs regarding the maybe-probably-possibly full vault of unpublished work.
  19. Reviewed by: Odie Henderson
    Sep 6, 2013
    38
    The ultimate invasion of its subject's privacy.
  20. Reviewed by: Steve Macfarlane
    Sep 4, 2013
    38
    An outsized A&E Biography episode coursing with the strident urgency typical to anyone convinced they have something new to say on a long since played-out topic.
  21. Reviewed by: Stephanie Merry
    Sep 19, 2013
    37
    While some of the stories are interesting, the film is much longer than it needs to be. For his part, Salerno tries to get creative with solutions for the lack of visual stimuli, but most attempts fail.
  22. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Sep 16, 2013
    30
    The movie is like a monstrous balloon that keeps re-inflating. If Salinger were around, he would reach for a pin.
  23. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Sep 5, 2013
    30
    Salinger, directed by Mr. Salerno, is less a work of cinema than the byproduct of its own publicity campaign.
  24. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Sep 19, 2013
    25
    Some documentaries are an embarrassment of riches. Salinger is merely an embarrassment.
  25. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Sep 6, 2013
    25
    We also learn that five of his books, written in secret, will be published between 2015 and 2020. Can't wait to read them. Can't wait to forget this movie.
  26. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Sep 4, 2013
    20
    What the movie gets hilariously, howlingly wrong is the idea that a life like Salinger's—so extraordinary, yet so willfully humdrum—could somehow be captured by the most shopworn of cinematic techniques.
  27. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Sep 5, 2013
    10
    Salinger thinks it’s big, important news, but it’s barely a footnote.
  28. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Sep 5, 2013
    0
    That mystery is certainly hardy enough to withstand the voyeuristic onslaught of this self-aggrandizing, lurid documentary, which leaves the viewer feeling that we’ve been given a tour of Salinger’s septic tank in hip waders without ever getting to knock on his door and say hello.
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Sep 13, 2013
    6
    I thought that Salerno's story was great. A topic about a mysterious author- JD.Salinger. Now, this was a mystery that's loopholes finallyI thought that Salerno's story was great. A topic about a mysterious author- JD.Salinger. Now, this was a mystery that's loopholes finally opened. This documentary is refreshing. It's works and Shane Salreno directs fully good. Must watch! How about a movie of Lemony Snicket, eh? IAM LOOKING AT YOU MICHEAL MOORE. But Salinger got boring very easily its good story made its a boring craft but the movie only runs on one bar. It's not easy but its effective. Full Review »