This movie really captured what David Foster Wallace stood for, its not flashy and easy entertainment but deep and interesting content to get great meaning from. The conversations are two great minds sharing an insight into the mind of creative minds growing up in a world of consumption. If you like thinking about society, people, and another perspective on life this movie is amazing, but if you are looking for the next die hard or another pointless actionmovie this is not for you.
I was hesitant about this movie. Because I love DFW's writing. Because his estate regarded the book and film as exploitation. Because Jason Siegel (?). But I found myself drawn in quickly. A.O. Scott commented that this film was less biopic than reflection/meditation on celebrity. Gotta say that I agree. The audience very quickly finds itself grappling with who we want to be and why. I think Wallace would like that. It is a talk-y film, but all the talking works. If I'm gonna drive around the Midwest, these two writers are good company.
The End of the Tour is a biographical film about the late David Foster Wallace which is directed by James Ponsoldt, written by Donald Margulies and stars Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel. Watching this film being born in the early 21st century I had no prior knowledge to the works of David Foster Wallace and now that I have seen the film I believe that I understand more than just his life story but his outlook on himself and his life which I find is quite unique in the biographical movie genre. What makes this film standout from most biographical movies is it screenplay by Donald Margulies as instead of telling Foster's story using events in his life like on a Wikipedia page he chooses the bolder route of slowly telling you about his motivations through conversations between the two leads, these conversations that make up the film (as there isn't a truly clear narrative) are what made the movie as good as it is, as there organic nature makes the audience feel as if they are sitting down next to them making the characters both more realistic and likable. Prior to this film I would have never thought that Jason Segel would have had the acting ability to play a highly intelligent yet broken person like David Foster Wallace and in fact I chose not to watch the film with my sister expecting it to be a road trip comedy with the raunchiness of one of his previous films forgetting Sarah Marshall, but while watching this film I was both amazed and surprised by how well Jason Segel pulled of a character who was so different to anything he had every done before, in fact I would say that the only comedic actors to do a serious performance to that level would be Jonah Hill in Moneyball and Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. Starring next Jason Segel is Jesse Eisenberg playing the rolling stone reporter David Lipsky; he also gives a great performance reminiscent to my favorite performance of his in The Social Network capturing the Ambitions in depth just enough to service the story. But the finest acting element was the fact that both actors had great chemistry making spending time with their characters engaging. On top of the acting and the screenplay the movie also standouts through the directing by James Ponsoldt. Unlike the acting and the screenplay the directing doesn't pop out of the screen and for some viewers that will be seen as a flaw but it actually suits the story as a stylistic approach to this film would have tarnished the realistic themes. The approach of the directing is to make you feel as if you're not inside one of the characters head but more a person sitting down and having a conversation with them and it is pulled off to a tremendous effect with James Ponsoldt using subtle camera angles and few tracking shots. In review I found the movie a breath of fresh air from the over saturated biographical movie genre and is a great film if you're either a fan of David Foster Wallace or just like intellectual character studies. I would recommend watching this film while wide awake as the film has an abundance of important snappy dialogue that is easy to miss.
What can I add than to warn: if you think the art form of film should primarily be about the visual - acting can be appreciated in the theatre - where this rightly belongs - then, this effort simply fails: it's tedious to watch: nothing of import or dramatic really ever happens: merely two talking heads (á la 'My Dinner with Andre' style) - yet intriguing (occasionally) to listen to, if only for Segel delivering the lines that supposedly the real DFW author shared with Rolling Stone's Lipsky. But that's the problem: it reminded me of the sort of compilation of leftovers and demos etc that rock bands put together to scrape the barrel after their demise from glory: occasional gems (one on, ah, 'self pleasuring' in particular! - see the quotes sidebar :-), but otherwise, mostly underwhelming dross. Then, true if Segel is the stand out in delivering those lines, but as his interlocutor interviewer, JE once again delivers unfortunately one of his characteristic tic ridden, nervy, too fast paced throwaway whiny lines, which with the regular effete laughter he interjects into almost every response to Segel's DFW life observations, just left me irritated, unable to concentrate on any of those supposed pearls of wisdom JS/DFW confided.But perhaps the major complaint / letdown by director and scriptwriter was that, as DFW tragically committed suicide, and these transcripts were published posthumously, we get no insight or revelation or indeed any sort of real reference for why such a waste of talent occurred - other than hinted at (mere?) loneliness
which seemed either lazy or contemptuous of Ponsoldt and Marguilies, respectively! In short, of far less importance than it (they? Ponsoldt, Margulies - Lipsky?!!) would have you think it is.