'The End of the Tour' (2015)


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The End of the Tour is a 2015 American drama film about writer David Foster Wallace. The film stars Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg, was written by Donald Margulies, and was directed by James Ponsoldt. Based on David Lipsky's best-selling memoir Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, it was released on July 31, 2015, by A24 Films. The film is the first film depiction of Wallace, whom Los Angeles Times called "one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years".

SCENE: "Be A Good Guy" (https://youtu.be/47s_3aPKDXw)

Writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) is dismayed to hear about the suicide of novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) in 2008. He had interviewed the author over a period of days twelve years earlier, following the publication of Wallace's novel Infinite Jest, which received critical praise and became an international bestseller, a touchstone for numerous readers. He listens to the recordings he made during their time together.

The film returns to the period shortly after the book's release. Although initially skeptical of the high praise Wallace's book is receiving, Lipsky – a writer having only marginal success – is awestruck after reading it. He persuades his editor at Rolling Stone magazine to give him an assignment to interview Wallace during his book tour.

The journalist travels to meet Wallace at his home on the outskirts of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois (near Illinois State University where the author teaches writing). Lipsky finds the young author unassuming and amiable, but indifferent to being interviewed. Wallace permits Lipsky to tape-record their conversations, with the proviso that Lipsky won't use any direct quotes which Wallace asks to have taken "off the record" five minutes later. Wallace opens up to Lipsky on a variety of subjects, ranging from dogs to television to fame and self-identity, but remains somewhat guarded. He tacitly admits to alcoholism, but offers few details of his experience. Lipsky's mention of Wallace's brief voluntary institutionalization under a suicide watch causes some friction between them.

As their conversation continues late into the night, Wallace invites Lipsky to stay in his unused "guest room", rather than a motel. The room is dominated by stacks of his books. They resume the interview in the morning. Lipsky also accompanies Wallace for a few days to Minneapolis-Saint Paul, where Wallace has the final appearance of his book tour. There they meet two women friends of Wallace: Betsy, whom he knew in graduate school, and Julie, a literary critic; the men spend time with the women later that night and the next day at the Mall of America. Although Wallace and Lipsky generally get along well, Wallace becomes angry when he sees Lipsky flirting with Betsy.

After their return to Wallace's home, tension increases when Lipsky asks the author about rumors of past heroin abuse. Wallace denies it, accusing Lipsky of looking for a stereotypical angle from which to write his article. As their time comes to an end, the two spend a morning together, mainly as new friends rather than as journalist and subject. Lipsky summons the nerve to give Wallace a copy of his own novel, and they agree to stay in touch.

The closing passage is set fourteen years later, when Lipsky is on his own book tour. He reads from his memoir, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself (2010), based on their 1996 encounter. He recounts the road trip he had with Wallace, reflecting on ideas the two had discussed.

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