This film was previously reviewed (as My Salinger Year) in February 2020 as part of our Berlinale coverage.

Philippe Falardeau’s latest feature is a visual treat. Sara Mishara’s cinematography creates a golden-hued vision of 1990s New York, and everything from the costumes to the cheesecake evokes a grand literary tradition on the verge of obsolescence – the literary agency’s lone computer is framed with none of the glamour of its typewriters and Dictaphones. This creates a wistful atmosphere throughout My New York Year, which is enhanced by its classical score and unhurried pacing.

The plot, following Joanna Rakoff’s memories of balancing her writing ambitions with her day job – sending pre-approved correspondences to J.D. Salinger’s countless fans – is less concerned with building dramatic tension than it is with relishing the everyday. It is comforting, pleasant viewing that skims between incidents and anecdotes, but its lack of insight renders the film less than compelling.

Margaret Qualley has proven herself an immensely watchable screen presence over the past few years, and her Joanna is no exception. The role does not give her much to sink her teeth into, but her perspective is consistently sympathetic as she introduces herself and her audience to the literary elite’s inner workings. The character shines in her new professional world, notably as she learns to define herself by her own standards rather than those of her boss, but the love-triangle subplot involving the sweetheart she leaves behind and the edgier boyfriend she moves in with is woefully underdeveloped. Considering this plot mirrors elements of Joanna’s job protecting Salinger, it feels a missed opportunity. As the boss, Sigourney Weaver is similarly untested, but the power-suit wearing, tough-as-nails manager is a role she excels in.

My New York Year is an enjoyable hundred minutes, with gorgeous visuals and a wonderful relationship built between its two markedly different female leads, but there is little staying power after the credits roll.



CAST: Margaret Qualley, Sigourney Weaver, Douglas Booth, Seána Kerslake, Brían F. O’Byrne

DIRECTOR: Philippe Falardeau

WRITERS: Philippe Falardeau (screenplay), Joanna Rakoff (memoir)

SYNOPSIS: Based on Joanna Rakoff’s coming-of-age memoir, My Salinger Year follows a young woman’s dreams of being an author while working for J.D. Salinger’s literary agency.