“Waiting for Stanford Prison Experiment to start a couple weeks ago, the trailers include one for The End of the Tour. My buddy turns to me and completely skips over the logical first question of “”are you going to see that?”” and instead jumps straight to “”Let me know when you see that so I can come with””. I’m equally amused by the situation and grateful that I have a friend that knows me so well in that regard.
The film follows the last days of David Foster Wallace’s book tour for his highly acclaimed Infinite Jest, where he is joined by a Rolling Stone writer looking to do a piece on him. Jesse Eisenberg plays the writer, David Lipsky, opposite an against type turn from Jason Segel. Well, maybe the character isn’t too against type, but for a guy best known for a long running sitcom and other comedies, this film is quite the departure for him, and he knocked it out of the park.
Eisenberg’s role fit him like a glove–the intellectual talker with a seemingly hard to crack exterior (see also: The Social Network, where he won a deserved Oscrd nod). We know he can do it and do it well, which doesn’t make him any less interesting to watch. But to use the hackneyed but appropriate term that’s been describing Segal, his take on Wallace is a revelation.
Now I’m not too familiar with David Foster Wallace. I haven’t read Infinite Jest (though it lived on the shelf I shared with my freshmanyear roomie), and to be honest, I often find myself confusing him with David Sedaris (mostly having trouble remembering which committed suicide and which is still going, although with this movie, I’ve finally got that sorted). So not knowing exactly who he was embodying, I can’t speak to the accuracy of his performance. However, I can fully assert that he disappeared into the role, keeping a hold of some very specific speech patterns and mannerisms, while also being layered and full of emotion. There’s already awards buzz building, and I really hope he can maintain the momentum, even though it’s very difficult to do that with such an early release date. But hey, if his friends James Franco, Jonah Hill (twice!), and even co-star Jesse Eisenberg can swing nods, so can he.
The film was more about characters that plot events, and with only two people on screen much of the time, it felt very personal and intimate. These were conversations that were enjoyable to be a fly on the wall for. Both men had such brilliance in their words, you couldn’t help but hang on to them. As Eisenberg’s character says “”You don’t crack open a thousand-page book because you heard the author is a regular guy. You do it because he’s brilliant.”” I may not be ready to do so right this minute, but I have added Infinite Jest to my wish list. I look forward to one day reading it.
The End of the Tour – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”