End of the Tour”
This is an indie film all the way, a little bit of slice-of-life
that is very instrospective, sometimes insightful, unusually small in
scope, ,and based on an actual event, if you can call a journalist
interviewing a writer an actual event.
Jesse Eisenberg plays David Lipsky, a reporter for “Rolling
Stone” who in 1996 has just been assigned to interview David Foster
Wallace, a young writer who has shot to fame with his award-winning
novel, “Infinite Jest.”
Lipsky is invited to visit Wallace at his home, which is in a
remote upper Midwest town in the middle of winter.
Lipsky finds big, enthusiastic, dogs, and a bachelor pad largely
unkempt, and devoid of any trappings of success.
Wallace seems more like an out-of-work machinist at the auto
plant. He always dresses
very casually, he chews tobacco, his hair is long and stringy, and
though he is a big man, his hulking presence seems informal and
The two men hit it off well enough that Wallace just invites
Lipsky to stay at his place for the several days he is in town, which of
course invites all kinds of informal conversation, even though Lipsky
turns on the tape recorder, most of the time.
Wallace is unafraid to talk about his loneliness, though he’s a
little more reluctant to speak of his former depression that landed him
in an institution. And he
gets really touchy when asked about rumors of a heroin addiction.
Wallace is, in fact, an addictive personality, so much so that he
denies himself a television in his house, because he knows he’ll just
sit there and watch it all the time.
Lipsky is himself a writer, having published a novel that
didn’t receive nearly the acclaim that Wallace’s did, and that
provides some tension in this relationship, as well, as Lipsky is by
turns envious, jealous, admiring, and hero-worshipping.
But they’re both very smart, and they even have a conversation
about what that’s like, to feel like you’re smarter than most
people, and being aware of putting on certain personas at certain times
in order to not intimidate the people around you, or invoke their
disdain, and then when do those acquired personas become actually a part
of who you are?
Not much really happens here.
Wallace is invited to an interview and book signing, which Lipsky
attends; provoking another conversation about public personas and
personal integrity. There
are only a couple of other characters who intersect this dialogue, a
publicist and a former girlfriend. When
Lipsky approaches the former girlfriend about interviewing her, as well,
Wallace makes it clear that’s unacceptable, just like he did when
Lipsky asked his permission to interview his parents.
It appears Mr. Wallace wants the article to be about what he says
about himself, not what others around him say about him, because, in
fact, Lipsky is basing the entire article on his own perceptions of
Wallace, the heralded reclusive writer.
Yes, it’s a bit melancholy, at times startlingly revealing, and
at other times surprisingly ordinary.
Eisenberg is not quite the wide-eyed innocent, but he can still
convey an intense personal interest.
Segal is a presence despite the lack of histrionics, or even
significant secondary performances around him. It’s
low-key, but still engaging, in its quiet, introspective sort of way.