Salinger triumphs, though, as an absorbing portrait of a singular man of mystery.
Too bad that Salinger offers no real insight into the elusive writer and is fueled almost entirely by trivial anecdotes.
The movie has a shallow, paparazzo literalism. It just wants to catch the legendarily reclusive Salinger getting into a Jeep.
What emerges is a portrait of an enigma.
Where Salinger succeeds is in the gripping section on World War II, and in the exquisite, often melancholy details in the stories told by the likes of Joyce Maynard.
The treatment of J.D. Salinger's writing in this overwrought documentary is so inflated and pompous it comes as a relief when Judd Apatow shows up to describe The Catcher in the Rye as a funny book filled with great lines.
A good documentary can lead you to a place of not knowing what to believe about a subject. A bad documentary tells you what to believe, and why, but in ways provoking disbelief in the movie's tactics.
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.
When [Salerno] drops the stylistic overkill and lets these people talk about Salinger, what emerges is a riveting picture of a contradictory, deeply selfish, troubled man.