Film Captures Journalist’s Time with Brilliant, Troubled Author

“The End of the Tour” is a worthwhile film for movie and literature buffs, despite its sluggish pace.
“The End of the Tour” is a film by director James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now,” “Smashed”) based on David Lipsky’s book about the five days he spent interviewing author David Foster Wallace for Rolling Stone Magazine.
The film opens in 2008 when Lipsky ( Jesse Eisenberg) receives a phone call telling him his friend, respected author David Foster Wallace ( Jason Segel), has died by an apparent suicide.
The film picks up 12 years prior when Lipsky, then a writer for the Rolling Stone, gets his hand on a copy of Wallace’s critically acclaimed “Infinite Jest” and demands to do a story on the man behind the masterpiece.
The film has a deliberate and sluggish pace that is coupled with the dead and bleak winter weather of rural Minnesota, the film’s setting.
Although Lipsky is the protagonist, the subject of the film is Wallace as we really see him through Lipsky’s eyes. The handheld shooting style to the cinematography lends itself to a more organic feel. It allows the viewer to be in the middle of the scene with Segel and Eisenberg. We see things as if we are there with them every step of the way.
At the heart of any good story is conflict, and at the heart of this film’s conflict is distrust.
Throughout the film, Lipsky and Wallace trade off on their suspicion of each other.Wallace distrusts Lispky’s intentions throughout the film, while Lipsky questions Wallace’s sincerity. I got the sense that, in the beginning, Lipsky only hears Wallace through the tape recorder.
Eisenberg does a phenomenal job at making it feel like the interaction he has with his intellectual counterpart is deliberate and to the point, but lacking in tact. Through this disconnect builds tension and distrust. Lipsky tries to determine whether Wallace’s sloppy and awkward demeanor is genuine or a commercial mechanism to help sell his book.
Wallace, conversely, believes Lipsky is there to write a compelling story, whether or not it accurately portrays Wallace. Ponsoldt does a superb job at building the tension between Wallace and Lipsky, although Eisenberg, and to a much greater extent, Segel sell the emotions of two highly intellectual personalities clashing in a fit of ego.
Eisenberg almost acts as the lens to the camera as he allows us to peer into the life of the eccentric writer brilliantly played by Segel.
Wallace was a deeply disturbed, but brilliant writer who always struggled with his addiction with separating himself from reality through alcohol and television.
Yes, a debilitating TV addiction. With his deadpan delivery, Segel captures the humanity in Wallace’s insecurities about being famous and coming off as a fraud. His anxiety of being alone is increasingly apparent the more Lipsky pries into his emotions.
We see an oddly harmonious and amicable relationship blossom in the end as Lipsky still doesn’t quite grasp Wallace, and Wallace doesn’t quite trust Lipsky. However, they agree to a mutual respect for each other as they part.
Where distrust drives them apart, mutual respect and humanity connects them.
This film is definitely worth your time and money of you are into movies about slow-paced reflections of the emotionality of human relationships.
I would suggest it to any true cinephile or pop literature fans. “The End of the Tour” is rated R for language including some sexual references and is playing at Riverdale 10 Cinema in Little Rock.
image via www.huffingpost.com

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