David Foster Wallace was the author of fiction, non-fiction, essays, short stories. He taught writing at an Illinois university and was, to most people it seems, an enigma. Wallace’s breakthrough novel was Infinite Jest, a 1,079 page opus published in 1996. The diverse elements in the novel include a tennis academy and a substance abuse treatment center. They are located in a superstate made up of the USA, Canada and Mexico, known together as the Organization of North American Nations (O.N.A.N.) Each year there is subsidized by a corporate sponsor.
Rolling Stone writer Drew Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) accompanied Wallace (Jason Segal) on a book tour to promote Infinite Jest and spent five days with Wallace. The two form an uneasy friendship, with Wallace’s conflicts between being an author and forced into the world of literary celebrity becoming clearer and clearer throughout. Though a big hit at at its Sundance Film Festival premiere, The End of the Tour is not the easiest film to watch. The action is verbal, not physical, yet director David Ponsoldt keeps it moving.
Eisenberg, heretofore a cute kid, is still “cute,” but he’s also grown as actor, turning in a most interesting performance here. If you know Segal, as most of us do from his rom-coms (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and sitcoms (How I Met Your Mother) you find him barely unrecognizable here. It is a breakout performance.
In all, The End of the Tour is an interesting film about interesting people and should be seen.