The End of the Tour

August 21, 2015186 min

“ You will become less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do”

Given the self-indulgent context provided by such an insightful quote, isn’t it plausible to think that most people have asked, have been asked or thought about the following question; ‘If you could sit down and have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would you choose?’

It is a profound, yet deeply personal question and by it’s nature revealing, for as well as an answer fascinates the imagination, it probes and answers unasked questions about the subject being surveyed. For example, if the answer is Justin Bieber, you may not think twice about the conversation, because it’s likely that the respondent is very young and there’d be a lot of giggling. But if the answer is Moses, Ghandi or George Washington, it may seem more like a ’60 Minutes’ segment; informative, yet also very formal.

Having pondered the question, I’ve developed a few go-to answers, but I’ll remain behind the curtain, at least for now.

Instead, we are talking about award-winning writer David Lipsky leading a series of conversations with author David Foster Wallace for a Rolling Stone Magazine interview, and it is the basis for the new film “The End of the Tour”.

The films title comes from a series of meetings when Lipsky (Jessie Eisenberg) met with Wallace (Jason Segal) near the end of Wallace’s book tour for the novel “Infinite Jest”. Lipsky, who also had a book published around the same time, identified with the elements of greatness in Wallace’s work after reading the book. And thus became personally vested in the project.

The storyline is straightforward and simple; two writers, both of whom are accustomed to feeling like the smartest guy in the room, and share a passion for words and language. They are masters of their craft. Their discussions take place over a five day road trip, by plane, by car, and in various hotel room chain-smoking sessions.

While it is as innocuous as it sounds, it the art of the conversation which will carry you, and as you watch two men talk about anything and everything, Lipsky seeks to unlock the mystery of the brilliant young novelist.

Regarding the question from the earlier, I believe that if you ask Lipsky who he would like to have that one conversation with, his answer might be that he’s already had it, with Wallace. The interactions were mesmerizing and as you find yourself being caught up in a storm of everyday topics that you can’t help but get lost inside them.

For as much as we like things that go BOOM! – when a movie captures the natural feeling of two people simply talking, as the subjects range from all over to the stuff regular people really talk about, it just feels right.

The back-and-forth between the pair sound so natural because they derive from the actual events and discussions as chronicled in Lipsky’s memoir about the faithful five days. The words come alive because of Eisenberg and Segal, the latter being a revelation and so much more then the person you thought he was. I knew Segal was talented, after all he has written five movies, but in this film he is David Foster Wallace. Directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now), who is also a Wallace fan, shows his love for the author in the way he directs the film, something he does with passion, something he shares with screenwriter Donald Margulies.

The exchanges between these two writers are the type I wish I had in everyday life for they are the kind in which you can become hypnotized by words.

“The End of the Tour” is one of those movies where you walk out feeling you were part of something, in this case you just might have been.

Brian Taylor

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