THE END OF THE TOUR
By Gary Murray
Starring Jesse Eisenberg and Joel Segel
Written by Donald Margulies
Directed by James Ponsoldt
Running time 106 min
MPAA R (language)
Selig Film Rating Cable
Jesse Eisenberg has become a giant part of this newest wave of A-list actors. Some of his credits include Zombieland, Now you See me and The Social Network. Joel Segel has become a giant part of the newest wave of A-list actors. Some of his credits include I Love you, Man, The Muppets and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. These two combine their talents in The End of the Tour.
This is past the idea of ‘Based on a true story’ in an interesting way. The film is based on the book Although of Course You End up Becoming Yourself by David Lipsky which is based on his tapes with author David Foster Wallace. Wallace was the author of Infinite Jest which was lauded as one of the best books written. Lipsky was a writer for Rolling Stone Magazine who has also published his first novel. The work starts with the death of Wallace by suicide and most of it takes place 12 years earlier.
The film takes on a big brother/little brother vibe, as Wallace agrees for Lipsky to tag along on his last literary stop of the tour. It is just the type of tour Lipsky wants to go on as a writer. His first novel was just published with little fanfare.
Lipsky is definitely the little brother in this situation, trying to impress celebrated author David Foster Wallace who teaches Creative Writing in a small college. Looking at a distance, one would think that Lipsky is the more successful author but he just wants to be like Wallace. He is a man free to write fiction.
The two meet and almost instantly there is a verbal wall between the men, like two fighters feeling the other out. At the same time, there is camaraderie between the writers. Wallace offers Lipsky an extra room, feeling more like an unwelcome guest.
The two talk and talk and talk. The film feels much like My Dinner with Andre just not as interesting. The best parts of the film are in the conversations which go from real interesting, real boring to real long.
The biggest problem with the film is in the screenplay. Basically, nothing happens in their few-day sojourn. They go to the last book store where Wallace reads from his tome and then they go to the Mall of America. The two hang out with some women that Wallace knows. That is pretty much the entire plot.
The most interesting aspect of the film is of the two men talking about life and writing and how the two elements tie together. But, there is no big reveal, no big third act. They meet, they talk, they part is the entire screenplay.
But the two lead actors are both brilliant. Jesse Eisenberg and Joel Segel both take command of their roles with the tenacity of two bulldogs going after a raw steak. They throw banter and witticisms in a volley-like manner. Of the two, one can tell that Wallace is the superior intellect player but Lipsky keeps trying to keep the pace close like that lower player trying to impress a master player…
The film is directed by James Ponsoldt who does a great job with his actors. He lets them go on and play their parts, giving them just about as much slack as a director should. To bad that he didn’t have much raw material to work with. The screenplay might have been stronger if it had been more fictionalized.
I’m sure that the book written about this adventure Although of Course You End up Becoming Yourself is a much more interesting read than watching the film unfold. For those who are terrified by the though of cracking open a book, this may be a flick to catch on a wintry afternoon when there is nothing better to do.