Sneak Peek: Coming Through the Rye
Inspired by events in the life of the filmmaker. It is 1969. 16 yr. old Jamie Schwartz (Alex Wolff), desperate to be a worldly adolescent, has landed at an all-boys boarding school for all the wrong reasons. Ostracized by nearly everyone, he clings to the unshakable belief that he will someday play Holden Caulfield — the main character from the book The Catcher in the Rye — on Broadway and in the movies. Jamie adapts the novel into a play to put on at school, but after a series of increasingly hostile incidents he runs away to search for the book’s reclusive author, JD Salinger (Chris Cooper). On the way Deedee Gorlin (Stefania Owen), a quirky townie, picks him up. Their odyssey to find Salinger and the roller-coaster of events that follow is a journey into the meanings of friendship, sex, love and loss.
Starring: Academy Award-Winner Chris Cooper as J.D. Salinger, Alex Wolff (TV’s “The Naked Brother Band,” The Sitter, Peter Berg’s upcoming Patriot’s Day), and Stefania Owen (upcoming Hulu series “Chance” with Hugh Laurie, TV’s “The Carrie Diaries,” ALL WE HAD)
Written & Directed by: Jim Sadwith
Runtime: 95 minutes
This transcript has been lightly edited:
The Referee: Hey, listeners. The Critic and I got a chance to see a Sneak Peek of a movie coming out tomorrow. That’s right: October 14. It is going to get you excited about reading “The Catcher in the Rye”! (laughter)
The Critic: (laughing) Weren’t we already excited?
Ref: (laughs) Yes, we were. It’s called “Coming Through the Rye.” And, as you guessed, it has to do with “The Catcher in the Rye.” We’ll tell you a little bit how. But, it’s directed and written by James Steven Sadwith, who also had a very personal experience with some of the events of the movie. It stars the wonderful Alex Wolff, who you can see in some upcoming things. And, then, of course: Chris Cooper, playing J.D. Salinger! (laughter) I mean, come on! With eyebrows and all. (laughter) Stefania LaVie Owen, as well as some others: We’ll get to them. Let’s tell the listeners a little bit [about] what this is about.
Critic: (laughing) It’s about eyebrows. Anyway —
Ref: It is: talking eyebrows.
Critic: So, Alex Wolff plays Jamie Schwartz. He’s a 16-year-old, who is in prep school. And, this is 1969. He’s in prep school. You know he’s being bullied. He’s a theater geek. And, he’s decided to write a play version of “The Catcher in the Rye,” because, of course, Holden Caulfield is his hero. Makes sense: He wears the red hat —
Ref: Yup, everything.
Critic: He wants to get J.D. Salinger, the author of “The Catcher in the Rye” — his permission to do this. And, J.D. Salinger is a recluse. He doesn’t want anybody touching his book. He wants the book to be the book, and that’s it. No adaptations; no one is allowed: not Scorsese, not you (laughter), nobody. OK? So, we see Jamie try to track J.D. Salinger down: going to his agents, going to the town, eventually. And, who goes along with him? None other than Deedee, a character played by Stefania LaVie Owen. She is at a girl’s prep school —
Ref: Like the sister school, almost.
Critic: Exactly. She notices him; he doesn’t notice her. He has goo-goo eyes for a young blonde, of course, who couldn’t care less about him. But, they’re all in the drama group. So, they team up, Deedee and Jamie. And, on this journey, they discover each other, as well, in a way that is reminiscent of Holden Caulfield, of course. So, does he find J.D. Salinger? What is J.D. Salinger’s reaction to it? Does the play go? Because, this is his project for school. He needs to get it done. And, the bullying at the school: Why did it happen? And, after it happens, is it going to stop?
Ref: Yeah, that’s good. Now, the subplot of all of that is there’s some really heavy things going on at home —
Ref: — for young Jamie, that really is a catalyst as to why he does go on this search and journey. So, you’ll have to pay attention to that, as well.
Critic: Yeah, it’s all linked with the bullying and the home life and the search and Holden Caulfield. It’s a lot going on in this little movie. I mean, it’s only an hour, 37 minutes. (laughs) OK?
Ref: Well, you know what? I have to say: I’m just gonna go right into the performances. It’s Chris Cooper, you guys. He only really has two scenes in the movie, and you’ll know exactly what they are — what he’s doing.
Ref: And, he is the rye guy! (laughs)
Ref: The movie really builds up to him, and Chris Cooper, obviously, doesn’t slight. You’ll remember him and remember his angst and his frustration (laughter) and his eyebrows —
Critic: His eyebrows and the posture. (laughs)
Ref: (still laughing) You’ll remember his eyebrows. Quite frankly, I wish we could’ve had more.
Ref: I wish the movie was a little bit more about him, because Chris Cooper’s so good. But, I do have to say: Young Alex Wolff is quite the actor. He’s one to watch. He holds the scenes quite well, doing a lot of improv that you can see he’s a very playful actor. You can see him thinking. He works well with others. He was not overtaken by Chris Cooper in the scenes.
Ref: I think he’s really one to watch. Other than that, I just have to really talk about the challenges —
Ref: — that were with that: and that was with the story. Because, there were so many elements, as a viewer, I didn’t know what quite to watch.
Ref: I liked what I saw, aesthetically. The director did a wonderful job, aesthetically: the beautiful nature scenes that take place. But, I really didn’t know exactly what I was supposed to focus on, and that was a bit of a challenge for me. But, was I bored out of my mind? Absolutely not! It’s a good movie.
Critic: Yeah, it has its moments. In the middle, for me, it was a little wonky. [But] I understand why we went through what we went through. I think, like you said about Alex: For me, really, the ending for him was a challenging thing to pull off, and he did it. I think that that actually worked. And, like you said with Chris Cooper: The thing about Alex is [that] he’s a great listener as an actor. And, like you were saying, with improv, that’s what it comes from if you’re going to be good at that. You really have to be paying attention and listening. So, he did that well. I think, cast-wise, it was fine. I was cool with the cast. It’s just, some of the writing wasn’t quite as clear and concise as it could’ve been. So, if we’re thinking: Why watch that? We said it: It’s for Alex; it’s for Chris Cooper; also, if you’re just interested in “The Catcher in the Rye,” to see how that plays out — OK. It’s not gonna blow you away. It’ll be something to catch on TV, probably.
Ref: Yeah, definitely. So, this comes out tomorrow, folks. You can check it out at a theater near you. And, you let us know if you like “Coming Through the Rye.”