The End of the Tour


When handled properly, a film that's for all intents and purposes about two people talking can be as engaging (maybe more so) than an action-adventure flick that is about propulsion and collision. James Ponsoldt's The End of the Tour is an intriguing motion picture about a unique sort of propulsion and collision -- that of two writers whose lives are nearly all about interior terrains and observation, artifice and facade. The subject of this film is the late literary phenom David Foster Wallace, whose 1996 masterwork Infinite Jest, an imposingly complex postmodern novel, won him accolades (and a few brickbats) and a grueling signing tour. For the latter part of the tour, Wallace is accompanied by Rolling Stone writer John Lipsky, whose conversations with the oddly reticent novelist is the meat of the film (though never published in Rolling Stone, the interview became the material for the book upon which the film is based). Wallace is played Jason Segel and Lipsky by Jesse Eisenberg, two of the smartest younger actors in film. Segel is probably known best for his roles in Judd Apatow films and for the television series How I Met Your Mother, and Eisenberg for playing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. In this film they are hyper-literate, introspective intellectuals whose navigation of the roles of observer and observed (roles that they occasional trade) is the most fascinating element of this entertaining, and sobering, study of the fallout of fame. Wallace died in 2008, the victim of suicide. Highly recommended.

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