Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Coming Through the Rye: Feeling Kind of Holden Caulfield
Catcher in the Rye
the sort of book impressionable angsty kids used to have to get over. Jamie
Schwartz isn’t there yet. He is not a psycho-killer by any stretch, but he
could probably use some counseling. He will head off on a quest to find his
literary hero, J.D. Salinger, but he just might learn some important life
lessons on the road in James Steven Sadwith’s Coming Through the Rye (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in New York.
nebbish Schwartz would probably never fit in at his elitist Pennsylvania
boarding school, but his notorious Salinger hero-worship only makes matters
worse. However, his devotion also provides a creative outlet and a potential
source of independent study credit when he adapts Catcher for the stage. The school might even mount the production,
if he can just secure Salinger’s blessing. That will be quite a tall order,
even in 1969. Still smarting from a recent bout of bullying, Schwartz goes
AWOL, with the intention of following up a vague lead in New Hampshire.
Fortunately, he is intercepted by Deedee, a more mature, but inexplicably smitten
girl from the local high school.
course, Schwartz should be more interested in her than the airhead bombshell he
has been carrying a torch for, but he will have to learn this the hard way. The
impossibly patient Deedee will also play pop psychologist, teasing out painful
family history Schwartz prefers to ignore and deny.
Schwartz is sort of a big fat phony, but as annoying as he might be, Alex Wolff
goes all in with a fully committed, irony-free performance. Plus, the romantic
chemistry that slowly develops between him and Stefania LaVie Owen’s Deedee is
unusually genuine and refreshingly chaste. In fact, Owen and the always
reliable Chris Cooper, perfectly cast as Salinger, really elevate the
predictable material. She just has that “It” factor that lights up the screen,
whereas Cooper’s subtle discipline hints at Salinger’s artistic sensitivity
buried underneath his protective Yankee reserve.
is pretty well telegraphed every step of the
way, but Sadwith, Wolff, Owen, and Cooper realize it with tremendous
sensitivity. It is all very nice, but there is still something creepy about
Schwartz’s Caulfield-mania for contemporary viewers. Incidentally, it also
makes you wonder whatever happened to those five unpublished Salinger
manuscripts that were supposed to be published posthumously in relatively short
succession? Regardless, Coming Through
the Rye is a small, earnest, and occasionally wise film Salinger and Cooper
fans should appreciate when it opens tomorrow (10/14) in New York, at the
Labels: Chris Cooper, J.D. Salinger