The End of the Tour movie poster
B+
FilmJabber
NA
Users
YOUR RATING
A
B
C
D
F
The End of the Tour
The End of the Tour movie poster

The End of the Tour Movie Review

Now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Buy on Amazon)

David Foster Wallace was a dude who apparently, allegedly, questionably, was a better writer than I am. He wrote the acclaimed Infinite Jest and his posthumously published novel The Pale King was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In other words, he has just two more recognized pieces of work than I do.

The End of the Tour is not a biopic of Wallace but an exploration into his character, using words and dialogue cast over a series of days to bring the character--and he was a character--to life. Director James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) takes the same tact as Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin did with Steve Jobs--focusing on the character, not his life story--although the result isn’t quite as sharp, entertaining or funny.

But it isn’t trying to be.

Whereas Steve Jobs portrayed its title character as larger than life and every bit of filmmaking from the script on up exemplified this approach, The End of the Tour establishes Wallace on the other end of the spectrum, as a quiet, shy and seemingly mellow dude who just really kicked ass at writing (and who has his own set of serious character flaws). Ponsoldt, working from a script by Donald Margulies and the book by David Lipsky, builds their central character up not with bursts of energy but carefully and methodically, and then they stripping away the layers with the same concentrated effort.

Both Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg are excellent in the movie. Segel, who plays Wallace, carries the film. To say Segel is unrecognizable as Wallace is a stretch, but the funnyman transforms himself into a serious, slightly disturbed individual whose awkwardly charming, easygoing demeanor masks inner turmoil. It’s not the kind of performance that offers a lot of flash or that one oh-my-god-what-an-amazing-performance kind of scene, but there’s no denying that Segel is at the top of his game here. Eisenberg is equally strong, though his character to some degree is simply meant to be a portal through which the audience is allowed to observe his counterpart.

After hearing acclaim left and right about this film, The End of the Tour never struck me as so powerful and moving that I could classify it as amazing, but it’s a film that gets better as it goes along, starting out with scenes of casual, awkward banter while slowly inching toward something much deeper, more exploratory, more interesting, than you could fathom. It’s a very good movie that is terrifically written and very well acted, and is one that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Just like my own pieces of writing.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

B+
FilmJabber
NA
Users
YOUR RATING
A
B
C
D
F