End of the Tour: When Creative, Troubled Minds Meet

the_end_of_the_tour_posterAs directed by James Ponsoldt, The End of the Tour is a rather engaging chronicle of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter and novelist David Lipsky (well played by Jesse Eisenberg) and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel).

A24 will release this highlight of the 2015 Sundance Film Fest July 30, as counterprogramming to Hollywood’s top guns.

The interviews took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace’s groundbreaking epic novel, Infinite Jest, a critically acclaimed novel that over the years continues to grow in  stature due to cult following.

So much more could have been made from such explosively dramatic material, but the director and writer seem to aim too low with this chronicle, too often going for the obvious.

the_end_of_the_tour_2_eisenberg_segelIn moments, the movie is powerful, especially in depicting the tenuous yet intense relationship that evolves between the journalist and his subject, two men with strong personalities.

In the process, the couple weave around each other, arguing, sharing laughs and also possibly revealing hidden frailties, though ambiguity prevails, as it’s not clear how truthful they are being with each other.

Ironically, the interview was never published, and five days of audio tapes were packed away in Lipsky’s closet. It turns out that the two men did not meet again.

The aptly titled film is based on Lipsky’s critically acclaimed memoir about this unforgettable encounter, written following Wallace’s 2008 suicide. It was a known fact that Wallace had been suffering from deep depression.

Both Segel and Eisenberg show good grasp of their characters, endowing them with depth of feeling.

the_end_of_the_tour_posterWhat could have been a darker and grimmer feature, turns out to be a work marked by sharp observations about the creative process, artists as tormented and conflicted individuals, healthy humor when it is least expected, and disclosure of tender emotions in some tough interactions.

I just wished the movie delved more deeply into the very nature of the sub-genre of celebrity interviews and relied less heavily on other conventional framing devices.

MPAA: R

Running time: 105 Minutes