The End of the Tour review

Tom Hanks had Philadelpha, Jim Carrey had The Truman Show and now Jason Segel has The End of the Tour. It’s a powerhouse movie announcing to the world that this comedic actor is a dramatic force too. But that’s just one of the many, many good things that can be said about director James Ponsoldt’s fourth feature film.  Below, continue our End of the Tour review.

Written by Donald MarguilesThe End of the Tour is based on the true story of David Lipsky, a Rolling Stone reporter who interviewed legendary author David Foster Wallace for five days in 1996. Lipsky catches up with the author as he’s about to hit the final stop on the book tour for the release of Infinite Jest, then and now considered one of the great novels written in our lifetimes. Over the course of the next few days, the reporter develops a complicated relationship with the icon.

Jesse Eisenberg plays the reporter, Segal the subject and for 100 minutes, the men become friends, enemies, philosophical equals, sexual rivals, artistic counterparts and much, much more. The End of the Tour premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and will be distributed by A24 later this year.

The End of the Tour

As The End of the Tour begins, David Foster Wallace has died. We’re with Lipsky – whose actual novel telling these events was the basis for the film – as he finds out the news. We then see how he first heard about Wallace from some incredible reviews he received for his novel. Reviews Lipsky is insanely jealous of.

So Lipsky sets out to interview Wallace and the author is not what you’d expect from a man of his fame. He’s lives in rural Illinois, alone, except for a few dogs. He’s quiet, pensive, a bit of a slob but unfathomably smart and insightful. Once the pair begin the interview, you never know where the conversation may go. Sex, drugs, love, McDonalds, Die Hard, Marguiles uses lots of the actual taped conversations for his dialogue. Yet in the capable mouths of Eisenberg and Segel, there’s never a question as to how natural it all sounds.

Really, that’s the number one key to the movie working so well. Both actors, working off the screenplay and under the eye of Ponsoldt’s direction, become these people. They’re so normal, down to early and believable and it makes you forget you’re watching a movie. You revel in the thoughts being discussed. The ideas become the stars as The End of the Tour implores you to consider what’s being said more than how it’s being said or even who is saying it. Even still, how and who tell a story too. That dichotomy is in large part because Ponsoldt very rarely gets involved. A lesser director might have tried to spice the film up a bit but The End of the Tour isn’t flashy. It’s muted and simple. For the most part Ponsoldt lets his two actors act, the screenplay sing, and the audience enjoy.

This is probably a good time to reveal that I’ve never read Infinite Jest, nor did I really know much about David Foster Wallace outside of the basics. But that’s insignificant because The End of the Tour is a universal story about a great many things. The screenplay, and in particular the dialogue, is absolutely stunning (thanks in large part to the actual people but still), both Eisenberg but especially Segel are magnificent in their roles, and Ponsoldt exhibits some real maturity in his direction.

There are dozens upon dozens of conversations to be had after watching The End of the Tour, but all of them end with the fact this is a great movie.

/Film rating 8.5 out of 10

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About the Author

Germain graduated NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Cinema Studies program in 2002 and won back to back First Place awards for film criticism from the New York State Associated Press in 2006 and 2007.