Review: ‘End of the Tour’ may be fiction as fact
“The End of the Tour” would be so much easier to wholeheartedly endorse if it wasn’t about David Foster Wallace.
And yet Wallace, the critically adored author best known for his 1996 novel “Infinite Jest,” is the subject and ostensibly the source for the film. Played here by Jason Segel, we follow him and Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) as Lipsky interviews Wallace for a profile feature during the “Infinite Jest” book tour.
Segel and Eisenberg have a terrific, prickly chemistry, consistently engaging our attention as Wallace and Lipsky bond, clash and constantly probe to better understand each other’s life and work. Segel, in particular, is magnificent, recreating Wallace as a well-rounded, ultimately heartbreaking character.
Philosophical observations fly thick and fast between the two, playing like a road-tripping “My Dinner With Andre,” although the film avoids full-blown pretension. In the end, it creates a poignant meditation on loneliness, aspiration and achievement.
However, a little background on the project raises some major moral qualms. The film is based on Lipsky’s 2010 book “Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself,” published two years after Wallace’s suicide (Lipsky’s “Rolling Stone” piece was never published). If the pair’s contentious exchanges about Lipsky’s perception and portrayal of Wallace are indeed true, it seems more than a little presumptuous to employ Hollywood actors to present Lipsky’s interpretation of Wallace’s pain as fact onscreen.
The whole thing becomes even more dodgy when you take into account that Wallace’s estate has disowned the movie, asserting that Wallace “would never have agreed” to Lipsky’s transcripts being “repurposed” for a film.
Taken as a film about two fictional characters, “The End of the Tour” is a stimulating delight. But it’s awfully hard to call it a true honor to its subject’s memory.
‘The End of the Tour’
Rated R for language including some sexual references
Running time: 105 minutes