The Movie Waffler Dublin International Film Festival 2021 Review - MY NEW YORK YEAR | The Movie Waffler

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Dublin International Film Festival 2021 Review - MY NEW YORK YEAR

my new york year review
A young budding writer takes a job with JD Salinger's literary agency.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Philippe Falardeau

Starring: Margaret Qualley, Sigourney Weaver, Douglas Booth, Seána Kerslake, Colm Feore and Brían F. O'Byrne


My New York Year is the latest addition to the growing canon of films in which normies find themselves in some sort of relationship with a celebrity. We've seen members of the great unwashed hanging out with Marilyn Monroe (My Summer with Marilyn), James Dean (Life), Dylan Thomas (Set Fire to the Stars), Miles Davis (Miles Ahead) and Gloria Grahame (Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool) to name but a few recent examples. Now it's the turn of reclusive American author JD Salinger, though the key difference here is that the writer's relationship with our heroine occurs solely over the phone.

my new york year review

Adapted from Joanna Rakoff's memoir 'My Salinger Year', writer/director Philippe Falardeau's film stars Margaret Qualley in the role of a young Joanna, who moves to New York with a broad goal of becoming a writer. She figures the best way to do this is to get a job, any job, in the literary world, and so she takes a lowly position with a literary agency run by stern luddite Margaret (Sigourney Weaver). Margaret's biggest client is none other than the 'Catcher in the Rye' author, despite him not having written anything in decades.


A large part of Joanna's job requires her to tackle the fan letters the agency receives addressed to Salinger and reply with a stock letter explaining how the author doesn't wish to receive any correspondence. Reading the letters, Joanna begins to become personally attached to the people touched by Salinger's work and even goes so far as to begin replying with her own letters. When Salinger proposes republishing a 1965 story for The New Yorker, Joanna does her best to ensure the writer isn’t off-put by the cold approach of Margaret.

my new york year review

My New York Year never quite decides on what story it's trying to tell, bringing up various subplots that never really amount to anything, along with supporting characters that don’t seem to serve any narrative purpose. I couldn't figure out what we're supposed to make of Joanna visiting an old boyfriend who reappears later in a fantasy ballet sequence. Margaret is established initially as a sort of literary world cousin of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, but her character is largely side-lined. We twig early on that Margaret's closed-off manner is concealing some sort of personal pain, but we're only offered nuggets of who the real Margaret is.


The movie has the breezy feel of a '90s TV show aimed at teenage girls, which would be fine if this were merely the pilot for an upcoming series, but it's all a bit insubstantial for a standalone movie. There's no real conflict or drama here, with Joanna landing on her feet at every turn. The closest she has to a problem is getting rid of her boyfriend (Douglas Booth), a terrible wannabe novelist whom the audience pegs as a wrong 'un from his introduction but whom Joanna seems to immediately fall for.

my new york year review

All that said, thanks to Qualley's infectious performance as a book nerd living the dream, we're swept along on her improbably easy journey through New York's literary scene. It's a charming piece of superficial story-telling but the complete lack of obstacles to Joanna's progress borders on science fiction. Everyone bends over backwards to accommodate her, and more cynical viewers may find themselves asking if this would be the case if she didn't look like Margaret Qualley? If you can put aside such an inconvenient question for its running time, My New York Year is a minor delight.

My New York Year
 played at the Dublin International Film Festival and is set for a UK/ROI release later in 2021.



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