In The End of the Tour we accompany David Lipsky from Rolling Stone, beautifully played by Jesse Eisenberg, as he accompanies David Foster Wallace, played by a toweringly great Jason Segal, on the final leg of the Infinite Jest book tour in 1996, twelve years before Wallace’s suicide. This movie is really wonderfully done and absolutely beautiful. Eisenberg and Segal are both absolutely perfect in their respective roles, finding the bone-deep weariness of these characters to perfection. Segal, in particular, is absolutely career best (by about a million miles) as the awkward, deeply sad, painfully lonely Wallace. Mickey Sumner and Joan Cusack are both quite good in support, but this is essentially a lengthy conversation between these two men and they have the best chemistry of any two men I’ve seen in I don’t know how long. Their conversations are natural, their reactions underplayed; even their arguments are quiet – these men are too tired to get really angry. And that screenplay is just astonishing; it’s a character study really, more than it is any kind of treatise on art, though it backs into a lot of larger topics: depression, entertainment, loneliness, fame. And it’s filled with devastating insights into these men and their emotional struggles ring absolutely true; as I watched the film, I was struck again and again at how truthfully and masterfully this movie was evoking the emotions of these men in my own soul. At the end, it’s really a film about too many things to even begin to enumerate them; it’s a film that you have to see and, I suspect, see numerous times in order for it really reveal all the riches it holds. The movie isn’t interested in elevating Wallace to a tragic figure; the film doesn’t care about majesty or melodrama. It’s just about a deep, deep sadness that sinks into the bones and changes the way you see people and things. I can’t recommend it highly enough. 4 stars.
tl;dr – Segal & Eisenberg are wonderful in this beautiful, thoughtful and insightful movie about the deep sadness and emptiness of two writers trying to get to understand each other. 4 stars.