This story of the five-day 1996 interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace explores the tenuous yet intense relationship that develops between journalist and subject.
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I can't say how deeply disappointed I'm in "The Spectacular Now,"(for example, absolute lack of introspective "alchoholism is deadly" etc...) whilst I DEEPLY impressed with this intimately dialogue-driven dramedy. Through 5-days rapport between DFW & Lipski, Ponsoldt depicts prison called "self-awareness" we can't run away anyhow. Segel & Eisenberg's chemistry is wonderful, Ponsoldt reaches delightly full growth.
Although much of The End of the Tour explores David Foster Wallace’s concern for being portrayed authentically or at least not pigeonholed into a digestible package or parody of what people think about him, the film ends up doing just that and being something DFW would cringe at and likely despise.
While Wallace's mind is an interesting place to visit, in a way there's a self-imposed ceiling to a film like this: wordy, academic, analytical, but modest and self-contained. It neatly encapsulates and distills his unique take on a particular, spectacular American malaise, as would a critical essay.
Not having read either Davids' books, I am judging it solely as it relates to other "bio pics." The bottom line, I found their conversations interesting and it made me curious to read "Infinite Jest" once and for all (and to read Lipsky's book as well).
Wallace is important to me. I was expecting to be cynical about Tour. I was not. It pretty much pulled the rug out from beneath me. Even before social media overwhelmed everything, we were always attempting to engineer ourselves based on how people may or may not perceive us. Self has always been about marketing. The moments where Segel looks w/ forlorn contempt at an unaware Eisenberg bespeak directorial genius.
As Bret Easton Ellis put it, this is the "whitest bromance imaginable". In this shallow hagiography of a very complex, multifaceted character, spectators are subjected to various trivialities on the nature of authenticity. The book is slightly better, but the film has no reason to exist. In fact, the film stands against everything DFW supposedly believed.
Literary in its complexity, endlessly watchable in its charm, The End of the Tour offers a beautifully nuanced story. Ponsoldt paints a melancholic portrait of an artist who's pained by a constant stream of self-awareness and critical thinking, which while not mutually exclusive come together to haunt an unattainable pursuit of happiness. This is perfectly embodied by Segel who finds in DFW his best character to date
"The End of the Tour" has plenty of smart observations to make about the nature of artistic genius and literary success. Aesthetically speaking, James Ponsoldt keeps the emphasis squarely on his actors, but still manages to capture the desolate and muted feeling of winter in the suburban Midwest. As in "Smashed," the filmmaker succeeds at exploring issues of depression and addiction in an un-sensationalized manner.