By Megan Bianco
While the summer movie season begins winding down in its last few weeks, A24 continues its rise into independent film studio legacy with the release of James Ponsoldt’s new feature, “The End of the Tour.” After the success of his previous movies “The Spectacular Now“ (2013) and “Smashed“ (2012), Ponsoldt chooses another project on ordinary people with insecurities and substance abuse. Based on journalist David Lipsky’s experience spending five days with reclusive cult writer David Foster Wallace, the film pairs up Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel to modest results.
In the late winter of 1996, David Lipsky (Eisenberg) is hired at Rolling Stone and pitches his first big article idea as an interview with low-key writer David Wallace (Segel). Flying out to Bloomington, IL, Lipsky agrees to follow Wallace around during his last leg of his latest book tour. Together the two Davids discover that they have a lot more in common than originally appeared, from similar pop culture interests to personal demons.
Ron Livingston plays Lipsky’s boss and Joan Cusack appears as Wallace’s driver during the tour. To some, Segel might have come across as miscast in theory, or maybe even cast too well, as a self-loathing intellectual hippie, but he totally makes it work. Already managing to escape typecasting after famously playing a self-deprecating, almost pathetic character in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” Segel now follows “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” (2011) with another strange, yet endearing man who doesn’t realize people’s adoration of him. This could have easily looked like another “funny guy does a drama for indie cred” thing, but Segel always looks and feels natural with the material, and clearly respects Wallace’s life.
Eisenberg is his usual, fast-talking, nervous type beside Segel, but the two have enough chemistry that he isn’t outshined by his co-star. Ponsoldt’s quiet direction works perfectly for the tone of Lipsky’s memories of the trip, and Danny Elfman provides a surprisingly mellow score that captures just the right mood. “The End of the Tour“ is a film not only for movie lovers, but also a dedication to writers and just for people who enjoy studying other people. If you aren’t watching the new Mission: Impossible movie this month, “The End of the Tour“ would be a good alternate.
Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.
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