Dir: James Ponsoldt (2015)
David Foster Wallace‘s Infinite Jest sits at number one on very long list of must read very long novels for many, many people. The mammoth read about a tennis club, a recovery centre and a film which, once seen, can totally ruin your life, has hung over my own head for many years; Its spine still un-cracked. Physically it’s the size of a mutant bread bin at well over 1,000 pages not including a 300 page appendix. In literary terms, for the casual reader at least, it’s like staring down the rails at a rather wordy freight train.
In comparison James Ponsoldt‘s likeable time capsule of a film looks past the prose at a short time with the reluctant wunderkind author; Specifically through the ears of David Lipsky and his omni present dictaphone by way of his unpublished touring interview for Rolling Stone magazine. Jessie Eisenberg and Jason Segel both turn in nuanced performances as the journalist and author paired together for the final half dozen days of Wallace’s frosty book tour for his apparent masterwork. Lipsky’s near vampiric persona and Wallace’s bro-ish charm bump up against each other in a weird and often wonderful master/apprentice sort of way with the steel eyed Eisenberg just about taking the prize.
Although The End of the Tour may be too cultish or narrow a tale for mainstream audiences, Donald Margulies‘ close quarters script and Ponsoldt’s dividing framing looks past the names and simply depicts a 5 day relationship that many, if not all of us can relate too; An aspiring person dreaming then meeting the hero they are aspiring too. The strength of Eisenberg’s unwavering but uneasy assholery and Segel’s bottomless likeability seems uncomfortably real at times with the former prying and cloying in equal measure while the later ping-pongs between teacher, sulky father figure and shady uncle. It’s a hard sell but Ponsoldt pulls it off with his leads by expertly showing why the phrase never meet your heroes was first invented. Now where is that book?