The true story of a five-day interview between Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky and author David Foster Wallace (1962-2008) showcases one of Jason Segel’s best performances to date.
The film starts in 2008 New York City, where writer David Lipsky receives word that author David Foster Wallace had died. Shocked by this turn of events, Lipsky finds his old box of cassettes and so begins a lengthy flashback that changed both the lives of Lipsky and Wallace.
In 1996, David Foster Wallace was a small town college teacher who had written a novel entitled “Infinite Jest”, which had garnered major rave review. David Lipsky, who had just started out at Rolling Stone, is fascinated by the novel after reading it on the recommendation of his girlfriend, Sarah. Lipsky manages to convince his editor to do a piece on Wallace.
Lipsky makes the trip to Indiana and meets Wallace, whose eccentricity intrigues the budding writer. As Wallace prepares to make the final stop of his book tour in Minnesota, the bond between Lipsky and Wallace goes from very insecure to one that strengthens until a misunderstood incident and certain questions that are forced by the editor risk the potentially close bond between the interviewer and the famous author.
Many have hailed David Foster Wallace as one of the greatest influential American authors of the last two decades with his second novel, “Infinite Jest” as his greatest work. For those unfamiliar, the film is set in a North American dystopia and revolves around many topics of interest. What David Lipsky attempted was to see how close the novel was to Wallace’s view of his own life and how did he see both reality and fantasy in his interview for Rolling Stone magazine back in 1996. The title of the film indicates that this interview was taken at the tail end of the book tour for the novel.
Jesse Eisenberg seems to be getting better with his recent roles and here, he plays David Lipsky as both a seasoned writer in the film’s opening and ending and as a budding writer whose outlook on not only writing, but his life as a whole changes within the span of five days. As for Jason Segel, he personifies Wallace perfect as he almost looks unrecognizable as the eccentric creative writer who tends to question what reality is and what is life all about, all while we learn that Wallace has suffered from depression, which is depicted a bit in the film.
The film more or less isn’t just about an interview, but to quote the classic film Casablanca, it is about “the beginning of a beautiful friendship”. Sure the bond between Lipsky and Wallace may seem somewhat like a roller coaster because Wallace has his views on interviewers and how he feels they can manipulate their pieces and it’s clear he shows that at first towards Lipsky. However, as the film progresses, it is clear that despite his outspoken views about manipulation, Wallace truly sees something in Lipsky and this is clearly seen through their love of tobacco and smoking, junk food, and love of action films. They talk briefly about Die Hard and go to the movies with two of Wallace’s female friends to see Broken Arrow and they rave while the girls are disgusted by the film. Some of the guys’ conversations when comparing loneliness to various topics truly makes one feel like we are seeing a depiction of how anyone can have a talk and it is clear that both Eisenberg and Segel don’t act forced, but smoothly go with the flow as two newfound friends who truly are just having a simple talk that lasts five days, even when it’s clear Lipsky has tape recorder in hand.
In conclusion, if you get a chance to see perhaps one of the best biopics in cinema today, then that film is The End of the Tour. Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel truly breakout in perhaps both of their best performances which truly makes this a great independent feature.
WFG RATING: A
A Modern Man Films production in association with Anonymous Content and Kilburn Media. Director: James Ponsoldt. Producers: Ted O’Neal, David Kanter, Mark C. Manuel, Matt DeRoss, and James Dahl. Writers: Donald Margulies; based on the novel “And of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself” by David Lipsky. Cinematography: Jakob Ihre. Editing: Darrin Navarro.
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel, Anna Chlumsky, Mamie Gummer, Mickey Sumner, Joan Cusack, Ron Livingston.