The End Of The Tour


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

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. The two men bob and weave, sharing laughs and also concealing and revealing their hidden vulnerabilities.
"Ponsoldt's film is more interested in what lies beneath the skin of the men than the covers of the book." | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Jason Segel's performance is the main reason to watch this adaptation of David Lipsky's book based on a five-day long - and ultimately unpublished - interview for Rolling Stone that he conducted with David Foster Wallace, the author of The Infinite Jest. Segel, best known for his gently comedic turns in films such as The Muppets and The Five-Year Engagement, slips effortlessly into the role of the acclaimed author, who committed suicide in 2008, bringing a mix of sincerity, guardedness and anxiety that suggest he has a long career ahead in weightier dramas if he wants it.

Jesse Eisenberg, meanwhile, sticks to type with his portrayal of Lipsky, his familiar slightly twitchy mannerisms coming to the fore. But if he pales in comparison to Segel, this is probably no more than Lipsky did in the face of Wallace.

Screenwriter Donald Margulies and director James Ponsoldt aren't interested in portraying Wallace as merely a tortured soul, but rather show him often on sparklingly inquisitive form, as interested in his interviewer as Lipsky is in him. Nevertheless, there is a melancholy to the ungainly, bandana-wearing author and an unease with himself that hints at the mental illness he had suffered previously and that would lead to him to take his own life at 46.

As well as exposing both men's intellect and fragility, Margulies allows their conversation to consider the march of modern technology - Wallace had ideas on this that seem prescient now - and the nature of loneliness. He also probes at more basic issues, such as jealousy, admiration and creativity, without becoming laboured or trite. This is, in essence, a two-hander and could easily have got bogged down, but Ponsoldt never lets things become too static, so that both the conversation and the film keep on the move.

I admit, I have not read The Infinite Jest, but that proves no bar to enjoying Ponsoldt's film, which is more interested in what lies beneath the skin of the men than the covers of the book.

Reviewed on: 28 Jan 2015
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The story of a five-day interview between a Rolling Stone journalist and David Foster Wallace.

Director: James Ponsoldt

Writer: Donald Margulies, based on the book by David

Starring: Anna Chlumsky, Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Mamie Gummer, Joan Cusack, Ron Livingston, Mickey Sumner, Lindsey Elizabeth, Dan John Miller, Noel Fletcher, LaTrallo Presley, Stephanie Cotton, Gina Ferwerda, Joel Thingvall, Ken Price

Year: 2015

Runtime: 106 minutes

Country: US

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