REVIEW: The End of the Tour

This is a movie about a conversation; one between interviewer and interviewee, and the baggage these two men bring to that conversation.

An interview is a weird thing: A stranger comes into your life and asks you to expose yourself emotionally to try to give a full view of who you are from a limited sample size. And then after that someone else will put the fragments that come from that together, either the writer, the audience or both. What they come up with may be something that resembles you or it may by some monstrous chimera with your own words as flesh.

The End of the Tour is an interview between two writers which adds in even more complications. It makes the interviewee more nervous about his story being shaped and told by someone else, and the interviewer is directed by his own hero worship and professional jealousy. The interviewer is David Lipsky, an up and coming writer for Rolling Stone played by Jesse Eisenberg. The interviewee is the acclaimed writer David Foster Wallace played by Jason Segel.

Their conversation carries over five days, the end of David Foster Wallace’s 1996 book tour for The Infinite Jest, and it runs the gambit of topics. They talk about eating junk food, how great Die Hard is, loneliness, masturbation, alcoholism, dogs, depression, shitty jobs, television addiction, and suicide. That last one colors the whole movie, because this story is framed by Wallace’s suicide in 2008.

This is a movie about spending time listening to two people talk about life for a couple hours. I’m glad I saw it.