THE END OF THE TOUR Movie Review
The End of the Tour is an intimate look into the life of post-modernist phenom, David Foster Wallace, and Rolling Stone reporter, David Lipsky, starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg. If you’re like me, then you went into this film with little to no background knowledge on the characters, and frankly you’re at no great loss if that’s the case. Based on real events, The End of the Tour showcases the bonding experience that evolved when Lipsky joined Foster for the last leg of his Infinite Jest book tour back in 1996, for what essentially turned into a five-day long road trip story as opposed to a typical interview.
Unlike the more formulaic biopic that attempts to take on so much material that it ends up watered down and underwhelming, The End of the Tour is a snapshot of the lives of both these gentleman. Although Lipsky made a valiant effort to understand the world that envelopes Foster’s brilliant mind, he came away with more of an appreciation for the wild sense of normalcy manifested by Foster’s labored behaviors than anything else. As Foster walks outside of his comfort zone with Lipsky by his side, he experienced a spectrum of outlandish reactions and thoughtful retrospection.
Besides the string of emotions that are reiterated on the screen with a cadence that keeps viewers from tuning out, it’s the stellar performances that are the real winner of the film. Segel takes on the role of Foster, complete with all his unusual mannerisms. He embodies this complicated man with a resilience that gives the character both a childish vulnerability and unequal sense of realism. The End of the Tour doesn’t attempt to break him down into an understandable entity any more than Segel does with his portrayal of the masterful, but enigmatic writer.
Contrastingly, it’s Lipsky, played by Eisenberg, who is transformed through his interactions with Foster. Eisenberg’s character brings a lightness to the narrative with his quirky optimism that carries many of the initial scenes. Foster lived within the confines of a self-restricted lifestyle, dictated partially by his mental instability, whereas Lipsky is very naturally the opposite. He went into the situation with the mentality of a fan to a certain extent, living out his dream assignment, exhibited by his eagerness – which lasted well after the experience concluded.
Eisenberg creates a persona with his character that makes viewers root for the underdog. As he basks in the complexity of Foster’s brilliance, Lipsky challenges him to take stock of his current circumstances which leads to a series of awkward silences that accompany the vast majority of their more forced conversations. Eisenberg presents an underlying admiration for Segel’s character throughout the film, giving viewers a similar perspective.
There is an undeniable on-screen chemistry between Segel and Eisenberg that viewers experience as the narrative unfolds. What was meant to be a simple exchange of words turns into a classic road trip adventure. The unapologetic writer that was David Foster Wallace embraced companionship for a brief slice of time, while attempting to reconcile his solitary habits.
The End of the Tour heads to theaters in limited release on July 31, 2015.