Commentary on previous The End of the Tour review
This film does a disservice to both Mr. Wallace and the audience. How could brilliance be displayed in such a dull fashion?
The problem with The End of the Tour film is that Director James Ponsoldt succeeded in making a talented American writer look like a dullard. Quite frankly, I made a major mistake when I drafted my initial review as I pointed my criticism in the wrong direction.
To begin with, The End of the Tour is a 1 hour 46 minute movie that seems infinitely longer. Following David Foster Wallace’s tragic suicide in 2008, former Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky capitalized on this tragedy by writing an account of his 5-day interview with Mr. Wallace that occurred in 1996. Having watched this disappointing film based on that account, it is little wonder that Rolling Stone rejected Mr. Lipsky’s submission even though Wallace’s 1000-page novel “Infinite Jest” had just made him a literary celebrity.
Lipsky traveled to Wallace’s small ranch home in Champaign, Illinois, where he accompanied him on a short book tour. Sleeping in Wallace’s unkempt abode, the movie tries to allow the audience to penetrate the author’s mind. However, the exchange between the two spends a lot of time saying very little, and you are left with the feeling that Lipsky failed to penetrate Wallace’s protective shield.
Broken down to its core, Director Ponsoldt’s film pokes around the edges of Wallace’s fragile mental state. Unfortunately, about the only conclusion you could draw was that he wore his famous bandanna as an attempt to keep his head from exploding.
Regardless, Jason Segel makes the most out of his portrayal of the famous writer whose free time was largely dedicated to watching television. It was hard to believe that a literary icon who simply wanted to teach at a small local college could exhibit little hope for a future that appeared empty despite his fame.
Like Mr. Segel, Jesse Eisenberg acts out of character in his role as Mr. Lipsky. Though it was clear that Lipsky danced around the edges of what appeared to be Wallace’s psychological emptiness, you were left with the impression that it was Lipsky, not Wallace, who was a likeable lout in way over his head.
Unfortunately, let me close by saying that this tepid film left Mr. Wallace hiding in the background. The fault of making a slow film about a complicated, legendary writer lies with Director Ponsoldt, not Wallace.