My New York Year
My New York Year could easily be mistaken for The Devil Wears Prada for literature in its first instance: the young nervous girl interning at a famous corporation under a powerful female director is not unfamiliar. But director Philippe Falardeau provides far more depth to his characters in this true story, based on the memoir My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff.
Starring Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s Margaret Qualley as Joanna herself, and Sigourney Weaver as Joanna’s literary agent boss Margaret, My New York Year delivers on an impressive combination of an up-and-coming actress with a successful titan of the industry. Qualley and Weaver navigate a complex relationship with emotional intelligence and surprisingly powerful chemistry.
The primary catalyst for the story is the notoriety of JD Salinger and his works. Many fans write to him via the literary agency, and Joanna spends much time reading these letters, being deeply affected by a number of talented writers. Salinger is only present as a background character without a face, but his fame profoundly impacts all those working at the agency. Joanna has not read Salinger’s most famous work, The Catcher in the Rye, but understands more from the writer’s devoted cult-like following.
My New York Year weakens itself by casting its secondary characters as near meaningless and one-dimensional; this can occasionally leave the Joanna-Margaret relationship as an overriding and self-indulgent plot point, with the vaguely familiar face cropping up in whichever scene they won the coin toss for. Joanna’s background love story, whilst it adds to her character depth, is a footnote in her relationship with writing, reading and Salinger.
Falardeau’s direction isn’t perfect, but My New York Year is saved by the strength of the performances and chemistry of its leading ladies, along with a beautiful score and a captivating emotional journey.
My New York Year is released in select cinemas on 21st May 2021.
Watch the trailer for My New York Year here: