The End of the Tour
Director: James Ponsoldt
Year Released: 2015
Writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) gets permission from Rolling Stone magazine to do a profile of novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) as he goes on his book tour for his magnum opus Infinite Jest1 and gets into a series of debates with the (deeply troubled) author. While I was as irritated as a lot of people when I saw Segel was cast as DFW2 - I'm a fan of his work and it didn't seem a good fit - it turns out Segel does just fine in the role: he not only handles Wallace's words (captured by Lipsky's recorder) well, but captures his gestures and general over-thinking/self-review wonderfully. While it does seem to treat DFW was a difficult genius type (there's a bit of book nerd hero worship to this) it also tries to show his flaws, like when he has a meltdown when Lipsky talks to an ex-girlfriend of his from grad school3 or when he gets elusive when his (possible) drug use4 is brought into question. Of course, this barely touches on Wallace's style whatsoever - I will go on record as considering him one of the great essayists of all time5 - and the real joy of DFW is actually reading DFW: for the time being, in cinematic form, this is a passable introduction.
1 An intentionally long novel that people like to put on their shelves and pretend they read.
2 Segal always struck me as being an exclusively comedic performer, although he does bear some physical resemblance to his real-life counterpart.
3 It's never mentioned, but Wallace's involvement with Mary Karr is troubling if the stories are true.
4 What drugs DFW did (if any) is not for anyone to say with certainty ... but he did know a hell of a lot about them.
5 Anyone who knows me realizes I tend to exaggerate but this statement is not hyperbole: his essays, in which he is consciously aware of himself as a journalist, are remarkable works of literary art (including his piece on David Lynch, his meeting with Max Hardcore and his famous essay on going on a cruise). His address to Kenyon College should be read knowing he was giving advice to young people he had difficulty applying to his own life.