Have you ever watched a movie, and then after watching feel the desire to research everything you can about the movie and its topic?
The End of the Tour starring Jason Segal, Jessie Eisenberg and directed by James Ponsoldt. The movie is about an interview that David Foster Wallace gave to a journalist, David Lipsky, for Rolling Stone Magazine. The actual article was never published, but after Wallace committed suicide Lipsky published a book based on the recordings and notes he took during the days he spent with Wallace. This book is what the movie The End of the Tour is based on.
To start Jason Segal is phenomenal as David Foster Wallace. I never once saw the guy who was in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, or the The Muppets Movie. For me personally I had never heard of David Foster Wallace until this movie. When it was being promoted I learned some things about Wallace and his suicide. I was more drawn to this movie initially because I wanted to see Segal take on a non-comedic role. His amazing portrayal as Wallace in the movie made me want to find out about the actual man, and read his work.
After researching the making of the movie I learned the Wallace Literary Trust did not approve of the film. Their quote “The David Foster Wallace Literary Trust, David’s family, and David’s longtime publisher Little, Brown, and Company wish to make it clear that they have no connection with, and neither endorse nor support The End of the Tour.” This may give you pause before watching the movie. If the estate felt this strongly about the film was it even right for it to get made?
Wallace did agree to the interview, and the information obtained for the interview was Lipsky’s. He has the right to do with it as he sees fit. Would Wallace have wanted a movie to be made about him? Just from watching the film and hearing some of his speeches I don’t think so. Much of the dialogue in the film comes directly from the tapes Lipsky has. They are very much Wallace’s words. I can’t see him wanting a movie made about this small moment of his life.
The movie is very intimate. It feels like you are pulling back the curtain to an individual. There is a voyeuristic feel to the movie, which is helped along by Lipsky’s actions in the film. Some of this is uncomfortable, and it is supposed to be. This is a testament to Ponsoldt, Segal and Eisenberg. The film, for me, is just a vessel to deliver more of what Wallace had to say on life. I understand after watching the film where the Wallace estate was coming from, but it did introduced me to David Foster Wallace. I now want to read his works. I listened to a commencement speech Wallace made after watching the movie, titled: This is Water. I’ll put this link and many others in the description below. I have seen quotes from the speech before, but to hear it delivered in full was to realize how charming and brilliant the man was.
The film captures this. It captures both his struggles and his brilliance. I cannot understate how well Segal played this role. He deserved some Oscar consideration. Eisenberg, for the most part, plays the same character he does in every movie. He is supposed to be more charming in this film than he has before, but he still comes across as socially awkward. Honestly not knowing anything about Wallace going in, you would think Eisenberg would be a more logical fit for a socially awkward author. This would have been a mistake, and casting got the two actors for the roles right.
I don’t really have any negatives for the movie. There is one scene where you can tell the audio wasn’t captured well. There is also a meet up with some girls, which could have been left out, but didn’t detract from the film. I really enjoyed it immensely but it is probably not a movie for everyone. The movie is two guys talking about writing and life, about fame and the inherit troubles which comes with it. It has what Wallace thought about becoming famous, and how he was worried he would become a sellout and lose himself in his fame. If this sounds interesting to you, then this movie is well worth seeing. It’s out on video on demand now and worth the rental fee. I’m not sure how much rewatchability the movie has, but I know if I saw it on HBO or another channel I would stop and watch. I’m just not sure I would buy it on blu-ray.
Have you seen The End of the Tour? Have you read Infinite Jest? Do you have an issue with the movie being made knowing the Wallace family didn’t approve? Let me know what you think.