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Sundance Review: David Foster Wallace at the end of his tour

February 1st, 2015 Posted in Arts and Life

By Mariah Noble

PARK CITY—In “End of the Tour” at Sundance, David Foster Wallace is the author of a book called “Infinite Jest,” which made him so successful that he drew the attention of David Lipsky, a reporter for Rolling Stone. Lipsky spends a week with Wallace for the final trip of his book tour.

Eisenberg (left) and resurrect David Foster Wallace. (Rolling Stone image)

Eisenberg (left) and Segel resurrect David Foster Wallace.

The pair are like two friends who meet at summer camp. They stay up late talking about philosophies and struggles, bickering when it comes to girls.

Wallace, played by Jason Segel, is clearly the more mature of the two, sharing his insights with his younger, less-experienced friend (Jesse Eisenberg), whose view of him jumps frequently between admiration and envy. Wallace is guarded and private, desiring to trust those around him while still trying to hold back.

The story, adapted by director James Ponsoldt, is based on Lipsky’s remembrances of events, but what the audience doesn’t learn from the movie is that the interview taking place before them didn’t see publication until Wallace’s suicide 12 years later, in 2008.

The story in the movie is simple, excluding superfluous fluff. It captures the essence of human intellect while also accounting for the value of kindness and heart.

I appreciated how easy it was for audience members to relate to these characters. As a viewer who learns the truth about Wallace, you grow to respect his philosophical and private persona. Wallace is a brilliant mind who just wants to feel satisfied with himself, but in his push for perfection probably never will. Further, he’s relatable because he himself is drawn to celebrities who seem relatable. For example, he’s attracted to a celebrity he can imagine digging into a bologna sandwich, rather than the perfect-looking, dainty ones.

Lipsky, too, is relatable. How many of us have idolized someone but then resented them for their success? He’s in search of a story and has inward battles between asking the hard questions his boss wants him to ask and keeping the trust of his subject.

Though Lipsky and Wallace both connect and dispute in the movie, near the end Lipsky describes the interaction as the “best conversation” he’s ever had, and as an audience member, it’s not hard to see this as truth.


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