Film Review: THE END OF THE TOUR

THE END OF THE TOUR
Directed by James Ponsoldt
Written by David Lipsky and Donald Margulies
Starring: Jason Segel and Jesse Eisinger

I am not familiar with David Foster Wallace’s work (save a few essays from CONSIDER THE LOBSTER) but I am familiar with him as a celebrity. And in many ways that is what this movie is about. It is close to a two-hander and most reminiscent of MY DINNER WITH ANDRE although it takes places over a few days.

Jesse Eisenberg plays David Lipsky, a ROLLING STONE reporter writing a story about the famous writer despite the misgivings of his editor. Foster Wallace (Segal) and Lipsky spend the next two hours (days in the film) talking about rather amorphous topics. In fact, afterward it is hard to remember what they talked about other than fame. You’d expect in a film about writing to hear more about writing, or writers. You’d also expect to hear Foster Wallace read from his work at a reading he gives. He walks to the podium and the film immediately cuts away to his signing books.

But what seems to interest Lipsky, since it is his book (published after Foster Wallace’s suicide) and the tapes he made that provides all of the dialog, are the vagaries of celebrity and how Foster Wallace feels after producing one of the most important books of his generation (INFINITE JEST). Lipsky’s envy of this feat permeates every scene of this film. I am not sure whose choice this was, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s inevitable given Eisenberg’s acting style.

From these comments, it must seem like I didn’t like this movie at all. And, in fact, I did. I liked it as a portrayal of two men on a road trip bantering intelligently about trivial things. But it also succeeds on another level: it makes you want to see just what his writing was really like. Perhaps that is the point.

Patti Abbott
In addition to being the Crimespree Senior Film Critic, Patti has penned numerous short stories and her debut novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, is in stores now. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join in.

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