The End of the Tour
Director: James Ponsoldt
Writer: Donald Margulies
Based on: David Lipsky‘s memor Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel, Anna Chlumsky, Mamie Gummer, Joan Cusack, Ron Livingston
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2015
[Review by cornholio.]
David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) is a writer. He just published his first novel, more or less at the same time that David Foster Wallace‘s (Jason Segel) Infinite Jest came out, against the backdrop of which Lipsky’s own novel disappears. Jealous he reads it and finds that the critics were right with their praise of Wallace’s novel. So Lipsky arranges for an interview with Wallace for Rolling Stone magazine. Wallace, notoriously publicity shy, agrees to have Lipsky trail him for a few days during the end of his book tour.
The End of the Tour may have occasional lengths, but for a film that is basically just an extended conversation between two people, it is incredibly engaging and well-made.
My experience with David Foster Wallace so far is limited to Brief Interviews with Hideous Man (book and film and play) and I’ve been meaning to read more of his stuff, in particular Infinite Jest. What struck me most about Brief Interviews is that it is a book for men – but in the good sense. One that critically examines what masculinity is, ultimately a feminist (even if I don’t agree with everything) book for men by a man about masculinity. And this also holds true for The End of the Tour (and from what I gather, it can also be said about Infinite Jest).
The women in the film take a definite back seat to the two guys and whereas this is usually a point against a film in my book, in this case, I didn’t mind it at all. When thinking about making the world more feminist, we need to think about the men and their roles as well. And not in the whiny Men’s Rights Activists way. If that comes from two straight guys who may not even think of themselves as particularly feminist, like it’s the case here, it might even reach people who usually wouldn’t even start to listen under different circumstances.
That is not to say that I wouldn’t disagree with Lipsky and Wallace. Neither are they flawless or completely likeable. But they are always interesting to listen to. And since nothing much happens in the film, it’s important that they keep you interested. I’m thinking about not only getting Infinite Jest, but also Lipsky’s book.
In any case, The End of the Tour is a brainy film that does have its funny moments, a stellar cast and manages to be completely respectful of Wallace’s shyness and doesn’t exploit it. What we get of him in his private life is only what he gave Lipsky in the interview. Nothing more, nothing less. And it’s more than enough to make for a fascinating film.