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Prior to seeing this film, I had limited knowledge of David Foster
Wallace and his works. After seeing the film, I wanted to learn more.
The End of the Tour (dir. James Ponsoldt) is a very reflective film,
highlighting author Wallace on the last stretch of his book tour for
his novel Infinite Jest. Our entry point into this intriguing man is
David Lipsky, a Rolling Stone reporter hired to do a piece on him in
the late 1990s.
What little there is of plot is made up for in excellent
characterization. The film is really all about existentialism, and
thankfully it never leans towards pretentiousness. Rather there is an
air of optimism about making your time on earth worthwhile. Wallace and
Lipsky in a way represent two extremes of existentialism. Wallace is
very relaxed, and takes his newfound celebrity with a grain of salt,
while Lipsky is very Type-A, yet never brash or irritating. Lipsky has
been trying to get his foot in the door as an author for a while now,
while Wallace almost became famous overnight, and the film plays with
the concept of "fame" in fun and unique ways. Through the film,
Ponsoldt is able to explore these two extremes and find common ground
between them, all while touching on the idea of fame and what it means
to different people.
The script is outstanding, and hits all the right notes I touched on
above. The dialogue between Lipsky and Wallace feels natural, nothing
is forced. I wonder how much improvisation was done for the film,
because the two seem like good friends from the moment they meet. There
is a natural chemistry that draws these two characters together, and
it's outstanding to watch on-screen. It's difficult to adapt a book
like Lipsky's, which is mostly interviews and recording, as the book
was published after Wallace's death in 2008. But screenwriter Donald
Marguiles makes it work, and the result is an insightful, often
All this talk about chemistry would be a waste if it weren't for Jason
Segel and Jesse Eisenberg as Wallace and Lipsky, respectively. Segel is
a marvel as Wallace; it's a performance that doesn't demand much, yet
Segel taps into all of Wallace's nuances and quirks. His delivery,
cadence, and warmth almost makes it feel like you're talking to an old
friend. It's a subtle performance that I hope is remembered come awards
season. Eisenberg, too, is great. His reporter-type isn't very
developed until the middle-end of the film, and he might come across as
annoying for some. But he makes Lipsky tick as the curious interviewer
wanting to learn more. He's driven by his desire to success, his want
to make a successful piece for Rolling Stone, yet he ends up with a lot
The End of the Tour is a huge success. It isn't a very showy film,
without much in the way of technical prowess, yet it's a talker. The
realistic dialogue and blasé tone make the film feel like a 140 minute
hang out with two good friends. Ponsoldt keeps a tight grip on the
film's themes, never letting one overpower the film's true intentions.
It's a wonderful ode to Wallace, and a funny one at that.
Tags for The End of the Tour Full Movie
, Jason Segel
, Jesse Eisenberg
, Mamie Gummer
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