Wednesday, August 26, 2015

[Review] The End of the Tour

Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg star in this profile renowned author David Foster Wallace, who committed suicide at the age of 46. The End of the Tour is based on one of his complex and revealing interviews with Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky. The film is essentially one really long conversation, but it's a thought-provoking and well-acted one.

Sick of writing about Boy Bands, David Lipsky (Eisenberg) is granted permission to do a story on the long-haired, bandana-wearing David Foster Wallace (Segel) during his book tour for his bestseller Infinite Jest. Once the two get past the awkward introductions and dissect the conscious nature of an interview, a sort of solemn bromance forms. They discuss a vast array of topics - from music, food, dogs, depression, movies, and masturbation. In fact, the film blatantly avoids talking about the actual writing process. The rest of the way, Lipsky is caught between either being respectful to a guy he admires, or prying for the best (and juiciest) story possible.

If you're familiar with Eisenberg's past work, you won't be surprised to know that he's completely in his element here, putting on a solid performance as a fascinated and somewhat nerdy journalist. And if you're familiar with Jason Segel's past work, you'll know that his repertoire has been dominated by comedies, both on TV and film--which is why it's so compelling to see him in such a serious, nuanced, and even dark role. He does it masterfully. I'm sure he's had it in him, but we just didn't know it. He nails the sophisticated, post-hippie cadence and he skillfully presents himself as an introspective over-thinker, with a sadness and agitation that emerges through the surface. Even if he doesn't get Oscar recognition for this, he's sure to gain some awards attention among indie circuits.

The End of the Tour is a sombering (it's a word now) portrait of loneliness, skewed reputations, and the lines between journalist and friend. It also makes sure to not glorify the idea of the "tortured writer". Not everyone will be interested in this film, and it slightly drags toward the end, but if you're down for some great performance and existential discussions, The End of the Tour couldn't be any more fitting.


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