March 26, 2016

The End of the Tour

James Ponsoldt, 2015
First off, I must admit that I am a person that entered this film not being completely familiar with David Foster Wallace. I knew of him, was familiar with the name but had no read his body of work. But there was a lot of intrigue surrounding this film. Jason Segal's dedication to the figure. The structure of the film has a unique construct, focusing solely on the final moments of Wallace's book tour for Infinite Jest - where he spent a week with Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg).

The film explores the Wallace figure, through the eyes of Lipsky. Eisenberg is probably the perfect casting choice. Lipsky is persistent, sharp, starstruck, but also a bit abrasive and aggressive at times. He occasionally presses Wallace to a point where not only he feels uncomfortable, but he becomes distant and despondent. This creates an environment in which it's not just two guys who meet and become friends, and quickly disassemble the boundaries. Instead you get a sense that Wallace is ALWAYS aware of Lipsky's agenda, and when they have moments of intimacy it's due more to him being a lonely person and wanting someone to confide in.

Although there aren't any real BIG moments in the film, the exploration is interesting enough to keep you engaged. There's an enigmatic quality to the Wallace character, and being someone who isn't so familiar with the actual person, I have to rely on Segal's performance to provide some depth. But Segal is really impressive here, feels committed to the role. The End of the Tour is a film that's not going to push me to go and read Wallace's work, but it provides a glimpse into an interesting literary character that struggled with some real demons.

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