For Reel

The End of the Tour (2015)
August 28, 2015, 11:19 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: James Ponsoldt
4 Stars
The End of the TourBased on interview transcriptions gathered for an unpublished article and later released as a commemorative memoir, The End of the Tour captures the final days of a 1996 book tour in which Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky profiled Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace. The two-hander’s best quality is that it plays like a variation of a doppelgänger drama, with a pair of Davids contending with the way that they perceive each other. Lipsky is clearly the “younger brother” of the two, while Wallace is his ideal–a jealousy that reaches its heights when he witnesses Wallace chatting on the phone with his girlfriend. Wallace, too, seems disturbed by how well Lipsky takes to some of his friends and by his natural social charms. The way this tension boils over feels slightly too calculated, but it’s a nice exploration of the competing interests of two very different authors. Wallace’s estate (as well as many of his fans) have taken exception to the project–it represents precisely the type of mythologizing that the very private Wallace would have resisted–but the movie approaches the material as tastefully as possible by employing a decidedly outsider perspective. On their final night together, Wallace shares a seemingly revealing, vulnerable monologue with Lipsky, as if Lipsky has finally cracked the case of what makes the author tick. Only the next morning, however, does Wallace reveal a new layer of himself–a tidy way that screenwriter Donald Margulies uses to argue that there is no knowing Wallace, and that this telling isn’t necessarily meant to serve as a complete, authentic portrayal.

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