Despite the fact that I wanted to watch “The End of the Tour” for the Minneapolis/Mall of America scenes, I still thoroughly enjoyed “The End of the Tour” thanks to a solid screenplay and winning chemistry between Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg.
The film is directed by James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now” “Smashed”) and written by Donald Margulies (“Dinner with Friends”), and also features Joan Cusack, Mamie Gummer and Anna Chlumsky. While the supporting cast is wasted somewhat, it doesn’t really matter because this film belongs to Segel and Eisenberg.
The film tells the true story of David Lipsky (Eisenberg), who in the 90’s wrote a Rolling Stones article about author David Foster Wallace (Segel). The film stars in 2008, where Lipsky receives the news that Wallace has committed suicid and pulls out his old tape recorder to reminisce about the interview with Wallace. Lipsky himself is also an author, who reads Wallace’s book, “Infinite Jest” and loves it. So he persuades Rolling Stones magazine to let him write an article about this brilliant author.
Wallace agrees to the interview and has Lipsky come out to his home in Illinois. You can tell right off the bat that Wallace is nervous about this interview, as he prefers to keep to himself. However, once Wallace warms up to Lipsky, their relationship/interview really takes off as they travel to the last stop on his book tour, Minneapolis, MN. They are greeted by Patty (Cusack), who coordinates the appearance and driving them around.
Once they actually reach the book signing event, they meet up with two of Wallace’s friends, Betsy (played by Mickey Sumner) and Julie (Gummer). David cannot seem to help, but flirt with Betsy, which really makes Wallace mad. Eventually, the two of them end up getting in a little fight, that leaves them in silence for the rest of the trip. However, they finally come to an agreement and figure out that the two of them had a great time together on the last chunk of the book tour.
Eisenberg and Segel make a wonderful duo, grasping onto every line of Donald Margulies solidly written screenplay. Segel is my favorite of the two because he looks and seems to know his part quite well. It’s too bad he will probably be forgotten at the Oscars.
As for the supporting cast, they are good, but small. “Veep’s” Anna Chlumsky has a very minor part, lending most of her voice to phone conversations between her and Eisenberg, while Cusack and Gummer do not get a whole lot to work with.
The direction from James Ponsoldt is great, giving us some very emotionally raw scenes between the two men. However, I still think I prefer his film “The Spectacular Now,” as I thought he really took the teen coming-of-age drama to the next level.
“The End of the Tour” works, thanks to Eisenberg and the brilliant Segel. Donald Margulies’s screenplay has some very sharp and well written moments, that make for an interesting character study. Rated R.