Director James Ponsoldt's adaptation of reporter David Lipsky's account of his road trip (based on his book Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself) with acclaimed Infinite Jest novelist David Foster Wallace is a curious tale of writers, their conversations, and self-reflexive natures. The End of the Tour is a well-made and fascinating recreation of the mid '90s literary scene and all its eccentricities told quite well through sharp dialogue and witty character interactions.
Both Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg are uniformly excellent as Lipsky and Wallace, two parallel authors who find a momentary kinship and simultaneous combativeness after spending five intensely insightful days together at the titular end of Wallace's book tour. We get Lipsky's playful admiration for Wallace and his jovial, introspective nature just as Segel captures Wallace's regular guy demeanour wrapped in a complex, modestly brilliant mind.
Essentially a two-hander of dual real-life performances, Ponsoldt and screenwriter Donald Margulies create the dramatized non-fiction film as a moment in time and journey between creative souls and observers seemingly destined to go off and make their own marks in the literary world. Fuelled through cigarettes, soda, candy, and junk food, we see the unremarkable life of a celebrated novelist drifting into public life and all the neuroses or anxieties that accompany it.
Ponsoldt, Segel, and Eisenberg thoughtfully recreate this real-life tale of authors and the writer's struggle while keeping true to our subjects and who they were to each other. It's a special film somewhat hampered by the need to know who David Foster Wallace really was, his work, influence, and mark on contemporary fiction/writing. Nevertheless, The End of the Tour really captures a time and place so succinctly through the lens of two very different but parallel creative minds.
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