Thursday, April 23, 2015

Movie Review: The End of the Tour

The Independent Film Festival of Boston started off last night with The End of the Tour. This is a drama based on the book by reporter David Lipsky telling of his five day road trip interview with writer David Foster Wallace for Rolling Stone. I haven't read Wallace though I did watch his This is Water speech. Lipsky is played by Jesse Eisenberg and Wallace by Jason Segel, both were very solid. Segel might not be an obvious choice but during the Q&A director James Ponsoldt said that based on Freaks and Geeks he thought Segel would be great in the role and he was right. The filmmakers had access to the original recordings that Lipsky made of the interview and they obviously were very helpful.

A few of us were reminded of My Dinner with Andrew and that's not a small complement. The conversations here weren't as deep but there was a lot to them. Wallace had a history of depression and substance abuse. At the time he had also recently achieved about as much fame as writer could hope to. Wallace was a private person and hence there were even more rumors about him and yet he agreed to the interview, by someone he didn't know and therefore couldn't trust. Lipsky was interviewing an idol yet was tasked to find a story suitable for Rolling Stone. They're both aware of these conflicting goals. They're also both writers, knowing that the goal is to craft an interesting story. They don't speak in post-modernist meta language but there's a good amount of nuance in what's not said, what is said and how it's said.

I'm sure the filmmakers had to dive into the source material to determine hidden goals. I'm happy that they seem to have done the work for me. There's plenty of text and subtext in the film, but it all felt apparent. In the second half of the film there were a few quiet moments between some scenes. it didn't drag but it felt like space to let the audience contemplate what had been shown, and I didn't feel I needed that time. I really enjoyed the film, it made me want to read some Wallace, but not so much Lipsky.

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