The End of the Tour – An intriguing study of a literary icon and human connection
Directed by: James Ponsoldt
Based on David Lipsky’s book “Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself”, about his time spent interviewing the late David Foster Wallace in 1996, “The End of the Tour” is a deep look into the character of the brilliant writer. Lipsky (Eisenberg) and Wallace (Segel) travel together, during the end of Wallace’s book 1996 book tour for his most profound work “Infinite Jest”. Most of the film is the two men getting to know each other, while splitting time between Wallace’s humble abode in Illinois and the road.Most of the drama comes from the fact that Lipsky, while greatly admiring Wallace, is there to do a job and that is to uncover as many personal details about Wallace as possible. This makes Wallace increasingly wary and frustrated as he only wants to make sure that Lipsky doesn’t paint him as anything he is not.
There is a constant struggle, at the heart of this story, between two men who want desperately to share thoughts and connect with each other but also do not want to give away the upper hand in a battle of analytical minds. It is played beautifully by both Eisenberg and Segel (who gives what is easily the finest performance of his career). In what could have been a tedious, wordy exercise, the fine acting and the sound script from writer Donald Margulies elevate it to a profound character study of an important figure at the height of his success. Sadly his eventual suicide hangs over the film, but it is exactly that, that makes the story the film is telling seem more important somehow.
The film is an intimate one. Almost every scene has the two men in close quarters, whether it be in a car, a diner booth, or Wallace’s house. The resulting bond that is forged is a complicated one, but provides ample entertainment for the duration of the movie. At it’s heart, “The End of the Tour” is not only a character study of both Wallace and Lipsky, it is a tender tale of human connection. A must see.