It’s The End of the Tour as we know it, and I feel fine.
Premiering at Sundance, I can say that I heard a lot about this film, but nothing about what it was actually about. I heard praise and more praise, that it was based on a true story, and even more praise and that is all I heard about it.
Based on the title alone, you would assume they were talking about a musician finishing possibly their final tour, and not a book author. Book authors are beyond un-sexy. Throughout history, the only sexy authors that everyone would agree on would probably just be Jack Kerouac and Homer.
I just wanted to make sure you knew that going into the film I was thinking positive, un-sexy thoughts.
After seeing this image, you can see that my initial reactions were confirmed!
The 90’s sure were a different time. We barely had the internet and we definitely didn’t really have cell phones. David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) is a journalist, writer, and author of fiction! He just wrote a book called The Art Fair that is loosely based on his own life. He thinks it has potential to be the best book of the year!
Then he finds out about Infinite Jest, a book written by David Foster Wallace (Jason Segal) and it is miles away the better book. Everyone loves it, it takes the country by storm and Wallace becomes an overnight sensation. But he is just a normal guy, who writes and teaches at the college level. He lives in a small northern town by himself with his dogs.
Lipsky sees a nice story behind the man though and appeals to the editors of Rolling Stone to let him do an all exclusive interview with Wallace. Sure, they don’t tend to interview authors, because (as we all know) authors aren’t sexy. But he is persuasive. So Lipsky gets to fly to his town, join him on the last stop of his tour, and spend five days talking with a newly famous and successful man, to see what makes him tick and how he is handling life.
Just so you don’t leave thinking there is literally only two people in the film, I can tell you the other characters, although they are all wildly unimportant. Anna Chlumsky plays Lipsky’s girlfriend, Mamie Gummer and Mickey Sumner play two of Wallace’s old friends, Ron Livingston plays an editor at Rolling Stone, and Joan Cusack plays a Minnesotan escort for the last leg of the tour.
Basically, the whole thing is like My Dinner With Andre, but several dinners.
I love movies where they focus mostly on the dialogue between a few characters and the other elements such as location, background, (action?), scenery, or other events aren’t at all important. A great script with a captivating dialogue can carry a movie and turn the silliest of ideas into something magnificent. Just look at Clerks!
Basically what I am saying is that I like plays, and this was one of the “play-iest” movies based on a book and not a play that I have ever seen. The dialogue is extremely top notch, and given it is based on a book that is based on a series of tapes that recorded everything they said, I have the highest hopes that these conversations actually happened word for word. Two intellectual writers talking the shit and talking about things that really matter. David Foster Wallace comes across as a very smart dude, the type of dude you just want to hear his opinion on literally anything.
And major props go to Segal, who gave by far his best performance in his career. Segal tends to be one of those actors who doesn’t change much in between roles, but he definitely captured a completely new persona in this film, where by the end I forgot it was Segal even acting, despite those distracting eyes of his. I don’t know if he will win best acting in any category, but I can definitely see some nominations in his future.
If anything, The End of the Tour did an impressive task that no other movie has done before: It has made me want to read TWO different books. The book by Lipsky about his time with Wallace, and of course Infinite Jest, which was apparently the hottest thing since sliced bread.
3 out of 4.