Despite his obvious genius, David Foster Wallace was the everyman. He was filled with immense self-doubt and distaste for his newfound fame. He wanted his work to matter but in a way without his involvement. He felt his prominence was undeserving and merely a distraction from his inevitable return to normal life. A life that consisted mostly of playing with his dogs, eating junk food and in the winters, digging his car out of the snow. He yearned for human connection and yet demanded his alone time which among other things paved way for his depression and unfortunate and untimely death by his own hand.
He acknowledged his talent for writing but felt all of the praise for him as some kind of modern day Hemingway or Joyce was misplaced at best. He was a highly conflicted individual with constant contradicting ideals that he both lived by and detested. Fame for Wallace was a rash, a byproduct of his literary work that left him questioning whether he should have even written a single word or not.
In The End of the Tour, David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) follows David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) as he finishes up the last of his book tour. As a Rolling Stone reporter, Lipsky is with Wallace for the purpose of finding out about the man behind the phenomenal book, Infinite Jest. The subject matter of the novel elicits certain questions that Lipsky must ask of Wallace but Wallace abhors what he has already been questioned about repeatedly. It seems no matter how many times he answers or how adamantly he proclaims his truth, reporters like Lipsky want some romanticized version of how they think Wallace’s life should be rather than how it actually is. Lipsky finds a kind of relatability with Wallace but with his career at Rolling Stone looming over them, their sudden friendship is going to be strained and maybe even short-lived. The conversation between proclaimed writer and his adoring fan and temporary biographer is complicated but never without its fair share of self-realization and clarity.
The script, particularly the dialogue is extraordinary from start to finish. Although the movie is composed of scenes that break up the conversation between them, what it all really comes down to is an exchange of words that examine everything from choice in junk food to existentialism. They are each a balance to one another and a weight that pulls them down to places they never wanted to return to.
Segel as Wallace is profound and poignant as the man with so much potential and a desire to do nothing more than exist beyond his writing. Eisenberg as Lipsky is determined and just as powerful as Segel in his deliverance of a performance filled with pain and confusion of loyalty. Their conversation is always engaging and brimming with wisdom and self-examination. While on the surface the premise is simple, below is a beautiful true story about genius and the weight of such intellect.
This is a slow burn but I can’t stress enough how important this film feels. If Wallace was half the man he is portrayed to be in the film, his loss to the world is a heavy one and a life as beautifully simplistic, simultaneously dark and complicated as his should be celebrated. I suppose that would be the best summation of this fantastic story; his life as a writer and humble man should be revered and remembered forever. This film at least tries to continue his story so that such a great person is never lost to time. It’s also a tragic realization that even the best of us aren’t impervious to the hardships of life. I can’t deny that this story has its share of sadness because it does but for all of its sorrow, it is never without unceasing brilliance.
Rated R For: language and some sexual references
Runtime: 106 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Drama, Biopic
Starring: Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Joan Cusack, Ron Livingston
Directed By: James Ponsoldt
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 4.5/ Visuals: 3.5
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
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