The End of the Tour

The story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace, which took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace's groundbreaking epic novel, 'Infinite Jest.'


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  • ★★★★½ review by SilentDawn on Letterboxd


    The End of the Tour is an intimate and delicate exploration of artists, their motivations, and their various influences on aspects of fame, ego, and relationships. With the perfect modern romance The Spectacular Now within his relatively-slim filmography, James Ponsoldt has already set a high-bar in regards to expectations, but I can happily report that my predictions for The End of the Tour came true. This is a beautiful film.

    Supported by two stunning performances, The End of the Tour succeeds so brilliantly because of the rapid-fire and supremely naturalistic screenplay, allowing substantial character depth and richness to be drawn from the pages. Jason Segel is the most talked-about aspect here, and for good reason. His portrayal of David Foster Wallace is truthful, heartrending, layered, and gorgeously felt. I was drawn into his mannerisms, movements, and physical quirks instantly.

    As someone who is unfamiliar with DFW, as I've never read his famous novel Infinite Jest, I still found Segel's performance to be exceptionally authentic and real. Never did I see the usually-comedic performer on the screen. Instead, I witnessed a role that transformed and changed in various ways throughout, both in external and internal fashion. Easily the finest performance I've seen so far this year.

    Jesse Eisenberg is side-B to Segel's side-A, and that is possibly the finest compliment I could give. Their relationship is one of the most beautiful and spellbinding dynamics that I've seen in quite some time, and Eisenberg is fantastic in playing off of and aiding Segel's work. In a way, they're inseparable as performers, as one wouldn't be nearly as great without the other. No moment feels false or heavy-handed, and it's extraordinary just viewing two artists compare, fight, discuss, and unleash darker and more complex feelings to each other.

    James Ponsoldt's direction is splendid throughout, and his framing of conversations as well as the shivering Midwest US is spot-on. Particularly in heated arguments, his direction resembles a sharp sort of dance, balancing and favoring different individuals within certain points of verbal questioning. The film is more of an odyssey than anything else, following two people as the glow of Fast-Food signs and bellowing snow surrounds them during their travels.

    Overall, The End of the Tour is another knockout by James Ponsoldt, who is one of the most exciting directors working today. Awe-inspiring performances, a wonderful screenplay, and a visual feast of scrumptious snow banks and quivering sunrises all culminates in an independent film that shouldn't be missed at any cost. A masterclass in feeling and beauty.

  • ★★★★½ review by Buddy O on Letterboxd

    Jason Segel needs to be in more things.

  • ★★★★ review by Josh Larsen on Letterboxd

    Nimbly takes some of the more provocative, wide-ranging ideas from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest – about loneliness, ego, addictive entertainment and American achievement – and lets them play out in the intimate arena of conversation. It’s My Dinner with Andre, but set in cars and over the dismal junk food that the movie suggests was the basis of Wallace’s diet.

    Full review here.

  • ★★★★½ review by Gonzo on Letterboxd

    2015 Movie Rankings

    “I don't think writers are any smarter than other people. I think they may be more compelling in their stupidity, or in their confusion.”

    It's crazy how such a great film ends up buried and forgotten come awards season, but here we are. Fifty Shades of Grey is now an Academy Award nominee. The End of the Tour, however, is not.

    Don't be put off by the seemingly boring premise of two guys simply talking, The End of the Tour is an excellent and absorbing character study. The road-trip biopic is like this generation's My Dinner with Andre—nothing fancy, never showy, but rich in profundity and emotion. Even the ending is low-key brilliant.

    The film works mostly in part thanks to its two leads, Eisenberg and Segel, who share terrific on-screen chemistry. But the revelation here is Segel, who proves that he can act (and really good at that!), as he turns in a mesmerizing performance as troubled literary genius David Foster Wallace.

    Director James Ponsoldt is definitely one to watch. He just keeps getting better with each film, first improving on Smashed with the similarly alcoholism-themed The Spectacular Now, and now this—all three, well-made, intimate examinations of the human condition. There's no question that Ponsoldt has the skills and the capability to produce some truly great films in the future.

    The movie's soundtrack is my favorite of 2015—an exquisitely curated collection of songs ranging from Tindersticks' poignant and vulnerable rendition of Pavement's classic "Here" (a fitting closer, if I may add) to Tracey Ullman's infectious and irresistible sunshine-in-a-song "They Don't Know" (I mean, jeez, just listen to it. That right there is pure pop perfection. Where have you been all my life?)

    The End of the Tour is about our fears and desires, happiness and success, our dreams and frustrations, perspectives and perceptions, memories and impressions, isolation and depression, demons and ghosts, life and death... the infinite and the finite.

    Everybody lives in the outskirts of Bloomington, Illinois. Some for a while. Some for good.

    Wonderfully tragic. Criminally overlooked. The End of the Tour comes highly recommended.

    The Scorecard:

    Direction: ★★★★½

    Acting: ★★★★½

    Writing: ★★★★★

    Editing: ★★★★½

    Visuals: ★★★★½

    Sound: ★★★★½

    Entertainment: ★★★★★

    Overall Rating: ★★★★½

  • ★★★★½ review by metalmeatwad on Letterboxd

    Why don't you just be a good guy?

    Perhaps, I Love You, Man for literary buffs? James Ponsoldt's The End of the Tour is an intimate and introspective exploration of loneliness, friendship, and self-discovery.

    And this conversation is the best one I ever had

    The End of the Tour is a wonderful mediation on friendship, loyalty, and being a writer. It's just an overall celebration of humanity and all of its wonderful and obscene complexities. It's actually a completely dialogue-driven movie and the screenplay remains to be one of its strongest assets. Most of the film actually just consists of deep, honest, and impactful road trip conversations offering fascinating cultural insight from the period. These conversations are captured between Wallace and Lipsky during The Infinite Jest book tour as they travel the road eating junk food, watching movies, driving, and smoking pot. The End of the Tour is one of those rare films where you can just sit back be just utterly captivated by constant dialogue and their deeper meanings. It's a film where you, yourself wish to enter the conversation with the two. Despite consisting of mostly conversations, the pace doesn't drag even for a moment.

    My PopTart es su PopTart...

    Eisenberg delivers another strong performance, but it's Jason Segel who's an honest to god revelation as David Foster Wallace. Goodbye comedic persona, Segel absolutely disappears into this role. Segel brilliantly captures the pain, the wit, compassion, vulnerability, voice, melancholy, and essence of David Foster Wallace. His performance really captures how fame doesn't change always change a person or make someone any happier. The End of the Tour overall isn't a film with a lot of big moments, but it's those quiet moments that make The End of the Tour a truly memorable experience. Admittedly, I haven't read any David Foster Wallace yet. Though, it's a testament to the film's profound effect on me that I want to instantly pick up a copy and dig more into the mind of Wallace.

    James Ponsoldt has blossomed into one of this decade's most promising directors. He's three-for-three, and The End of the Tour is his most personal film to date. I cannot wait to see what he takes on next. No other director out there captures the human spirit and layers of genuine human emotion quite like him. All of his films feel so outside the Hollywood system of filmmaking and he is able to consistently craft emotionally rich and grounded poetic material.

    Other notes: It probably captures the most authentic display of a journalistic interview on screen ever (boundaries, struggles, relationship)?

    I also have to mention how film gorgeously shot the film is. It makes absolutely beautiful use of natural light. Overall, it's a truly beautiful and moving film. [A-]

    Just for fun:

    The End of the Tour = Linklater's Before trilogy + I Love You Man + The Spectacular Now + My Dinner with Andre + Almost Famous

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