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Parents' Guide to

Rebel in the Rye

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Some violence and postwar trauma in whip-smart biopic.

Movie PG-13 2017 106 minutes
Rebel in the Rye Poster Image

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
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This drama is one of the best-written films of 2017 and is Hoult's richest work yet. Spacey has won two Oscars, but here, none of the wires are visible as they are in his sly, somewhat meta House of Cards performance. He entirely inhabits Whit and is gifted with a real arc for his character. In a very strong supporting cast (including Victor Garber, Sarah Paulson, Zoey Deutsch, and Lucy Boynton of Sing Street), it's the wonderful Hope Davis who stands out as Salinger's mother. The scene in which she receives a copy of his novel is quietly moving.

But the real star is the script, adapted by first-time feature director Danny Strong from Kenneth Slawenski's book, J.D. Salinger: A Life. Strong won an Emmy for writing HBO's Game Change and penned the underrated final two Hunger Games movies. His Rebel skillfully lays in exposition, avoiding standard biopic traps by allowing us to experience hinge moments, rather than have them indicated to us. There are clever lines to burn, and the film will catch many off-guard with its depiction of the notoriously reclusive Salinger in his youth: a charming fellow of no small wit. Most importantly, the film tries to get between those churning gears within the head of an artist. It cannily realizes that Salinger's sensibilities -- and sensitivities -- made him particularly vulnerable to the trauma of war. It's excellent work, and a lesson in the writer's voice.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: September 8, 2017
  • On DVD or streaming: January 2, 2018
  • Cast: Nicholas Hoult , Kevin Spacey , Hope Davis
  • Director: Danny Strong
  • Inclusion Information: Gay actors, Female actors
  • Studio: IFC Films
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 106 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: some language including sexual references, brief violence, and smoking
  • Last updated: June 20, 2023

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