The End of the Tour
Joan Cusack, Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
You don’t have to know much about author, David Foster Wallace, nor read his work to enjoy this observational biopic from James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now, Smashed). Based on the memoirs written by David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg), the film opens with the news of Wallace’s suicide. As Lipsky plays back old audio recordings, the film acts as a retelling of the five days that he spent with Wallace (Jason Segel), interviewing him for Rolling Stone.
The two actors have incredible chemistry, with Eisenberg as the neurotic-yet-confident interviewer and Segal as the intimidating-yet-paranoid interviewee. Segel’s performance, however, will probably be blown out of proportion simply because it’s such a big leap from anything that we’ve seen him do previously, but it’s impressive all the same. Most of the time, they’re just sitting around smoking cigarettes, eating junk food, and discussing philosophical things like pop music, fame, and loneliness. Wallace’s conflicted mindstate is frequently brought up in conversation, almost too often, which may just be Ponsoldt’s method for bringing his suicide back into the light. At one point, Wallace compares his personal struggle to that of a character in his own book, who leaps from a burning building. He points out that the character is at peace with falling to his death, only because it’s better than the alternative – an incredible metaphor for depression and suicide when you think about it.
An acknowledgement must be made of Yvette Granata’s set decoration, particularly with the attention to detail of Wallace’s home, which is described as “a frat house but more book-ish.” You can almost smell the muggy scent of stale cigarette smoke, dog hair, and mould. Seeing Wallace’s personality so cleverly reflected in his surroundings grounds him in a way that no other filming technique possibly could.