By: Grant Vance ~Staff Writer~
Far from biopic but non-fiction in nature, the melancholy introspection of “End of the Tour” delivers a dynamic character study of the late David Foster Wallace on his last days of touring for his final complete novel, “Infinite Jest.” Centered on the relationship of Wallace and Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky, “End of the Tour” challenges the line between friendship and professionalism in an engaging five-day interview.
This conflict carries the film, playing with the aspect of fame and loneliness as Wallace and Lipsky struggle to define the true nature of their relationship. What truly works about this film is how well it portrays this relationship. Leads Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg give great performances for their respective roles, providing nuanced looks into their character’s psyches. Both are troubled characters, finding a connection through their personal struggles.
Though Segel is most commonly known for his comedic roles, he brings his A-game to portray the charmingly introverted Wallace. There are of course comedic scenes within the film, but “End of the Tour” is far from a comedy. Segel transitions well into drama, creating a great deal of sympathy for the renowned wordsmith. Eisenberg should also be acknowledged for his performance, providing a compelling turn as Lipsky — an aspiring novelist with a high respect and slight jealousy for his interviewee.
Throughout their interview sessions many different themes are explored, shining a light on the troubled mind of Wallace. It is no mistake that the film addresses his premature death at its opening, setting the tone for the deep introspection that follows. Wallace is portrayed as a tortured character attempting to separate himself from egoism despite his fame. Lipsky is used primarily as a parallel to Wallace, highlighting the mentality of someone unable to cope with the idea of being great.
Aside from an occasionally meandering pace, “End of the Tour” works on every level. Fan of David Foster Wallace or not, “End of the Tour” is a wonderfully written exploration of a great mind, providing testament to the dark places in which an artist can find himself. “End of the Tour” is showing now at the Esquire on a limited theatrical release.