My thoughts on James Ponsoldt’s 2015 film about David Lipsky’s interview with David Foster Wallace.
The End of the Tour is a film that chronicles the interview of David Foster Wallace (DFW) by fellow author David Lipsky over the course of a handful of days for Rolling Stone right after DFW’s Infinite Jest was released in the mid-90s. It stars Jason Segel as DFW and Jesse Eisenberg as David Lipsky.
Let me lay some groundwork before jumping into my thoughts: I’ve never read Infinite Jest, although one day I would like to. The only David Foster Wallace that I’ve read are some of his essays, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve watched and listened to a handful of interviews over the years as well. About 6 months ago I read the book this movie is based upon, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. I found it to enthralling and emotional, especially for a premise that could be very boring.
With that out of the way, let me get into my thoughts on The End of the Tour. Overall, I enjoyed watching the film. For what is mostly two men talking, the time flies by, which is a testament to DFW and David Lipsky, the editing, and the screenplay. It has an emotional arc, which if I’m remembering correctly, is present in the book.
Being somewhat familiar with DFW’s voice and visual appearance, it took me about a half hour to get over that Jason Segel simply isn’t DFW. I think Jason Segel does a good job of capturing DFW’s mannerisms, and both he and Jesse Eisenberg’s performances are good. The more tense and emotional scenes deliver, which I was surprised by.
Some of the emotional impact of the movie was lessened by my familiarity with the book. It certainly strikes similar chords, and I found the ending of the movie to be particularly poignant.
There are few anachronisms in the film, specifically cars from the 2010s being present in parking lots, but that’s a minor gripe. The End of the Tour nails the 90s aesthetic with all of the smoking, soda, movies, and fashion.
While the movie isn’t overly artistic, I appreciate its visual style. I think the cinematography is the cherry on top, as there are some beautiful shots mixed into the interior shots.
The End of the Tour didn’t knock my socks off, but I think it’s a solid adaptation and look into one of the most legendary authors of all time. I’m glad I watched the film, and if you’re interested in writing and/or DFW, you won’t be disappointed.
I think it’s time for me to finally read Infinite Jest.