For anyone who has become annoyed on with a close friend on some extended road trip or European backpacking adventure, David Foster Wallace and David Lipsky’s relationship will resonate profoundly. “The End of the Tour,” the 2015 film focused on Lipsky’s Rolling Stone article about Wallace’s final book tour stop for “Infinite Jest,” is a shrewd showcase of two intelligent men grappling with their mutual admiration and aggravation.
Jason Segel plays Wallace, who’s been spending his days in his sloppy house, trying to come terms with his recent onslaught of success. Over in New York, Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) pitches his editor a profile about Wallace and finds himself high-tailing it out to cold country to understand the ethos of the Infinite Jester. They initially click, both putting on a faux front of coolness over diner coffee.
It’s a slow start, with “The End of the Tour” coated in smug for the first 30 minute or so. But it reaches greatness when Lipsky and Wallace let their uncover the faults and let their insecurities shine, Wallace berating Lipsky for being too flirty, Lipsky calling out Wallace for acting like the smartest guy in the room. How ironic and fitting that a movie about one of the greatest stories of our time, we’d be most entertained by two guys bickering in the background?
Segel is magnetic as Wallace, his mangy, mumbled performance clearly a labor of love. Eisenberg doesn’t evoke a strong connection to the real-life Lipsky, but he proves to be a worthy foil to Segel’s flannel-clad author. “The End of the Tour” is not as profound or emblematic as it wants you to think. But the fact it evokes both emotion and discussion makes it a worthwhile trip.