David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) is a middle-of-the-road author and journalist for Rolling Stone who undergoes the task of doing a feature on Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) at the height of his popularity. Based on Lipsky’s book Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, which detailed the five day encounter and was described as “…a road picture, a love story, a contest” by Maria Bustillos of The Awl, the film fails to capture that essence and, in effect, loses its footing.
The End of the Tour encapsulates a series of moments between Lipsky and Wallace and forces us to recognize these small encounters as significant and of importance, all while failing to extrapolate the deeper meaning of each scene. What we’re left with is a film about two men who aren’t particularly fond of one another and don’t do anything exciting during the span of time covered. As a movie, it lacks a certain noteworthiness.
I do not fault the source material, or the director James Ponsoldt, or even the actors, Eisenberg and Segel, who do the best with what they’ve been given. This falls on the back of the screenwriter, playwright-by-trade Donald Margulies. In the right hands, this could’ve been an introspective Trains, Planes, and Automobiles. But it wasn’t. It didn’t even serve its function as a ‘buddy flick.’
Now, I get that any pseudo-intellectual, literary-types familiar with Lipsky’s book are reading this review right now and probably cringing at my opinion of what this film should have been, but we’re talking about a movie here. As a genuine moment in time, I understand the importance of Lipsky’s feature and Wallace’s (self-contradictory) legacy. As a film, it’s not special. The End of the Tour will be forgotten and revisited by few in the years to come.