“The End of the Tour” Review

Fame is a fickle accomplishment, often bringing more complications than simple obscurity.

This is the case of David Foster Wallace, whose epic tome Infinite Jest catapulted him to the forefront of the literature scene in 1996. The film follows fellow author David Lipsky, who while on assignment for Rolling Stone traveled to the snowy northern Midwest to interview the celebrated author. Who he found was someone very different from the literary hero he had imagined. As Lipsky accompanies Wallace on the last stop of his Infinite Jest book tour, the two begin to form a friendship but a limited one of interviewer and interviewee struggle with jealousy, friendship, and doubt in each other and themselves.

The End of the Tour is very much a thematic movie, filled with weighty and honest dialogue that demands a second viewing.  Topics of loneliness, the culture of the American dream, and what it means to be an artist with integrity are all discussed with a heartbreaking human quality; a feat that most dramatic films rarely even come close to achieving. However, all of the brilliant dialogue would come across as pretentious and hollow were it not for the stellar two leads. Jesse Eisenberg has perfected the “envious and nervous-smartest man in the room” character and while his portrayal of Lipsky has those qualities, Eisenberg is able to make his character relatable. Lipsky is envious of the almost-without effort success of Wallace, becoming annoyed when his idol turns out to be another human being, flawed and scared. Jason Segel’s turn as David Foster Wallace is simply fantastic, completely disappearing into the role as the guarded and shy author. Everything from the gravitas of late night deep conversations to praising the perfection of Die Hard, Segel gives off a melancholic sense of intelligence as Wallace struggles with his renown and his own thoughts.

At its very core, this is a film about honesty, in regards to its characters and director James Ponsoldt’s (SmashedThe Spectacular Now) goal for the audience to look at their own perspectives. It’s a rare film where award caliber acting and dense dialogue come together to produce something human as two men wrestle wrestle with their identities. In the end, the results are simply stellar. The End of the Tour is out now in select theaters.

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