The End of the Tour is a great American film, including one of the best performances of the decade in Jason Segal, as well as a strong and haunting screenplay. The film’s emotionally draining nature makes it a difficult to rewatch at points, but the film remains a powerful exploration of loneliness, fame, and friendship, as well as one of the year’s best character studies.
Following the success of his novel Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace (Jason Segal) embarks on a national tour to promote the acclaimed book. In wake of Wallace’s sudden fame, Rolling Stone magazine sends out reporter David Lipsky (Jessie Eisenberg) to cover the tour, and establish an extensive interview with Wallace. But as the tour continues and Lipsky learns more about Wallace’s history and influence, he becomes drawn into his world of loneliness and depression, forming a unique and difficult relationship.
Director James Ponsoldt creates a beautifully ascetic film, with a realistic sense of storytelling and beautiful cinematography. The film isn’t necessarily dark or purposefully depressing, but the realism found in each scene and the powerful conversations create an emotional resonance that’s due to the incredible relationship that is built up. However, the film never feels like it’s attempting to provoke and emotional stimulus; instead, the natural power of the script provokes something very powerful within the characters.
The film’s screenplay is perhaps its strongest quality, in an Academy-Award worthy script from Donald Marguiles. The dialogue strikes the rare blend of feeling both realistic and cinematic, and being both emotional and entertaining. There’s many memorable lines, and the film’s delves into the psychology of writers and reporters, as well as the effects of guilt and fame. The cast works particularly well with the dialogue; the character of Lipsky works as the audience’s link to the film, and Wallace is explored in one of the best portrayals of any character in recent memory.
Another one of the film’s strongest qualities is its great, and limited cast that performs well within the film. Jessie Eisenberg gives his best performance since The Social Network, and both captures an emotional link with the audience, as well as the spirit of a reporter and the struggle with capturing a story. Eisenberg walks the line of being both a relatable character without being generic, and avoids any clichés that are sometimes found in his performances. Despite the events that occur to his character, the audience remains invested in his own journey and self-discovery
However, the film’s highlight is the transformative, career defying performance from Jason Segal. Segal captures a complexity in David Foster Wallace, between the character’s depression, insecurity, and struggles with relationships. Rarely is such an iconic Hollywood actor, especially a standardly comedic one, unrecognizable in a role, but Segal completely captures the persona and struggle of David Foster Wallace. Despite the film’s early release date, Segal is completely worthy of an Academy-Awars nomination for Best Actor.
The End of the Tour is a beautifully crafted and emotionally draining character piece, with immaculate performances and great writing. The film stands as a highlight of this year’s films, an emotional and heartwarming journey. Grade: -A