The End of the Tour: inspirational film.
Complicated. Vulnerable. Self-seeking. Unconventional. Somewhat witty in all the uncertainty. And, most importantly, inspiring…
Such words not only describe director James Ponsoldt’s most recent visual masterpiece, titled The End of the Tour, but also highlight what carries the true heart of the film from start to finish: critically-acclaimed author and novelist David Foster Wallace.
For those who find this name to be a vague memory, Wallace’s work ranges from novels to short stories to even collections of essays. Nonetheless, his crowning achievement (if you will) is the 1079-paged Infinite Jest, which many consider to be the defining novel of the 1990s. And such an achievement still reigns true, even after his startling suicide back in 2008.
The film brings a mentally and emotionally-exposed Wallace to the public eye for the first time since the release of his posthumous novel, The Pale King, back in 2011. What makes this biopic especially intriguing, though, is how it presents such exposure through the eyes of Rolling Stones reporter David Lipsky, who joined Wallace on the last leg of his promotional tour for Infinite Jest back in 1996. Throughout the five-day interview, the two share some laughs, some personal anecdotes, and even some revealing secrets about their perceptions on the world around them.
The End of the Tour finds a perfect blend of thought-provoking depth and heart-thumping sentiment throughout its 106-minute running time. Reasons may vary as to why this film hits home in the way that it does, from its easily comprehensible plotline to even its stylishly guerilla-like camerawork. However, in order to give credit where credit is truly due, this film’s unique personal touch is most certainly the work of actors Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel.
Eisenberg steps into the shoes of journalist David Lipsky with comfort and ease, igniting the true undertones of paranoia and envy that come with entering the mind of a fellow contemporary writer. Nevertheless, despite the huge presence created by Eisenberg’s performance, it’s a safe bet that Jason Segel will be the one to receive recognition for his portrayal of David Foster Wallace. I have always felt that Jason Segel had a presence on-screen that was not limited to his comedic abilities. And if any of his work proves that as fact over fiction, this film will surely be the one to do so. He completely embraces Wallace’s eccentric intellect and presents the author in a way where we see his fearful discomfort with the limelight. However, the portrait that Segel paints of Wallace also reveals a questionable ego beneath all of the vague humility, making his presence more flawed and ultimately engaging.
Overall, The End of the Tour finds itself stirring up an array of emotions over the tragic beauty that came with David Foster Wallace. Sure, he might have written one of the most compelling and provocative novels of the 20th century. However, what this film does so well, with particular help from its brilliant casting, is that it reminds us all that you should never judge a book by its cover. And that’s no jest.
The End of the Tour is playing at Montclair’s very own Clairidge Cinemas! For show-times and even more movie theater choices, please visit fandango.com.