Saturday, 13 August 2016

The End of the Tour

“Fiction's about what it is to be a human being.” – David Foster Wallace

On September 12th 2008, the world lost ‘one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years’. After suffering depression for many years, David Foster Wallace sadly ended his own life at the age of 46. 12 years earlier in early 1996, his seminal 1,000+ page novel Infinite Jest, described as epic and encyclopedic for its length and content, was released to unanimous critical praise and became an international bestseller. At the end of the book’s publicity tour, Wallace agreed to sit down for an interview with Rolling Stone reporter David Libsky. Their interview lasted 5 days.

Although initially sceptical of the high praise Infinite Jest is receiving, journalist and writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) is blown away by the book when he reads it. He persuades his editor at Rolling Stone to give him an interview assignment with Wallace, despite the magazine never having interviewed an author before. Lipsky travels to meet Wallace (Segel) at his home in Illinois, and although initially shy with each other, the pair gradually become less like interviewer/interviewee and more like old friends.I don’t want to say much about the film, because I don’t want to spoil it. I went into it almost completely blind, and was thoroughly awestruck by it. I want that for you. So, this review will be brief.

When a film is critically acclaimed but receives IMDb audience reviews referring to it as ‘dull dull dull’ or ‘excruciatingly boring’, there’s usually a pretty big chance I’m going to love it. I’ve got some guilty pleasures, sure, but for me film is an art form and is supposed to be studied. The End of the Tour is extremely slow and understated, but engrossing to the point where its 1hr45min runtime flies by in what feels like minutes. Delivered in a very fly-on-the-wall style with an almost real-time pace, The End of the Tour doesn’t give you a great deal of subtext but rather just drops you in with the two men and lets you watch the interview unfold. We’re not even given cards at the end to tell us what happened to the men, or whether the interview was ever published – it wasn’t until Lipsky released a memoir, upon which the film is based. This isn’t a biopic of David Foster Wallace, nor is it a biopic of David Lipsky. It’s a study of loneliness, fame and fears set over 5 cold days in 1996.

Jesse Eisenberg is great in this film, but he is really just playing Jesse Eisenberg. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an excellent actor, but if you were to put all his characters in a room together and were told to identify each one, it’d be bloody difficult. Jason Segel, however…Wow. Just wow. Segel, a man who only 5 years ago was singing ‘Am I a man or am I a muppet?’, delivers one of the finest performances of recent memory. If he isn’t showered with awards for this film, I will lose all respect for the many academies in the awards circuit. As the guarded and self-deprecating Wallace, Segel brings a painful vulnerability to Wallace and his unforgettable performance makes you completely forget you’re watching Segel. As far as you’re concerned, that is David Foster Wallace.

 The End of the Tour is a hard film to review, because I don’t want to say much about it. I just want you to watch it. I laughed, I cried and I experience every emotion in between. I was thoroughly engrossed for every second of its runtime, and when it ended, it lingered in my mind for a long time after. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the sign of a very good film.

The End of the Tour is an unforgettable masterpiece. 5/5.


Sam Love

The End of the Tour at CeX

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