Breaking into New York City’s literary scene in the 1990s was always going to be a daunting challenge for Joanna (Margaret Qualley), a writer finding her footing while toiling as an entry level employee in a literary agency. But the task becomes all the more formidable when she must also contend with the exacting standards of her hard-as-nails boss (Sigourney Weaver, commanding the screen) as she’s tasked with answering the fan mail that still floods in for J.D. Salinger. (Joanna is legitimately shocked to learn that the reclusive author is still alive.)
Once again demonstrating his unique ability to entwine humane comedy with incisive drama, write-director Philippe Falardeau (My Internship in Canada; Monsieur Lazhar) adapts Joanna Rakoff’s memoir into an alternately effervescent and astute period piece. And while the film is well-appointed with convincing ’90s details, it’s an even more accurate portrait of the crucible in which an aspiring artist must balance opportunities, ambitions and ideals, all while trying to hone a unique sensibility in the face of uncertainty.
Margaret Qualley, Sigourney Weaver, Douglas Booth, Seána Kerslake, Brían F.O’Byrne
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Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.
Photo: ©Julie Artacho
The Left-Hand Side of the Fridge (2000); Monsieur Lazhar (2011); My Internship in Canada (2015)