Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2015
Directed by
James Ponsoldt
106 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Chris Thompson
4 stars

The End Of The Tour

Synopsis: Set in the winter of 1996 and based on David Lipsky’s critically acclaimed memoir ‘Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace’, this film tells the story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter and novelist Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and acclaimed novelist Wallace (Jason Segel), which took place at the end of the long book tour that followed the publication of Wallace’s ground-breaking, epic novel ‘Infinite Jest’.

I’m a sucker for films where goofy, comic actors best known for lighter-weight, comedy outings suddenly show their true acting chops in films with much deeper and more meaningful things to say – think Brendan Fraser in The Quiet American (2002), Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) or, more recently, Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher.  Now Jason Segal - best known for daffy roles in TV’s How I Met Your Mother and the excellent Freaks and Geeks, along with features like Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) and The Muppets (2011) – can add his name to that list with his compelling performance as the self-deprecating, externally genial but internally deep-thinking Wallace. It’s not giving anything away to reveal that, from the opening scene, we know that Wallace will take his own life only twelve years after this glimpse into his character and that knowledge provides a painfully sharp context against which the character is played.  He is also provided with an excellent sounding board in the guise of Lipsky; a nervy, self-centred reporter who strikes up a sort of prickly friendship with Wallace that always seems perched on a knife-edge.  Eisenberg’s limited acting range is perfect for this kind of role, just as it was in 2010’s The Social Network; he’s at his best when he plays characters that we like to watch on screen but wouldn’t really want to hang out with.

It’s this tension between the two characters that the film relies on to keep Donald Margulies’ well crafted, mostly talky screenplay afloat. For the most part, that’s what the film is – two guys in Wallace’s home, or in the car, or in their hotel rooms or at a variety of fast-food diner tables doing not much more than talking to each other. It’s not as static as Louis Malle’s My Dinner With Andre (1981) but it sets itself the same challenge – can the characters and what they talk about and how they talk about it be fascinating enough to compensate for the lack of action? The answer here is a resounding yes!

Of course they are not alone in the film. In addition to Ponsoldt’s assured direction and Margulies’ terrific screenplay there is an excellent supporting cast that includes Mamie Gummer, Anna Chlumsky and Joan Cusack and the whole film is imbued with the evocative strains of Danny Elfman’s melancholy soundtrack. But in the end, it’s really down to the two leads and in almost every scene, it’s Segal who steals the film.

There are obvious echoes of other rock-journalist-interview films like Almost Famous (2000) and Lucky Them (2013) but whilst it sits well in that genre, it’s probably more at home in the company of the kinds of films Woody Allen was making in the late '70s and early '80ss; films that used the conflicts between deftly-drawn characters to explore the nature of art, intellect, celebrity, popular culture along with love and anxiety.




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst