David Foster Wallace was a brilliant writer teaching at a small college in the Midwest whose novel, Infinite Jest, had just been released to phenomenal reviews in many national publications. The unique time period between the release of the book and the time it took people to finish the 1,000-page novel occurred during Wallace’s book tour, and it was during this time that Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky.
Director James Ponsoldt doesn’t shy away from the long shots, allowing the audience to feel the initial excitement and chemistry melt away into tension as the space they overcame initially builds back up between Lipsky and Wallace. In one particular scene, Lipsky approaches Wallace’s home and we experience the range of emotions and reactions on Lipsky’s face as he makes his way up the driveway during the long, snowy march towards his host. It’s a small thing, but it conveys so much of what Lipsky hopes to accomplish with this article, and it connects us to those dreams making it all the more painful when they unravel.
The film manages to intertwine Wallace’s thoughts and writings into the core of the film without regurgitating his entire oeuvre, as someone who loved him may be wont to do. In exploring ascension to fame, it explores so much more about the relationship of the interviewer and the interviewee; how both are always assessing one another while potentially drowning in their own self-doubt.
The End of the Tour is a must for those with any inclination to learn more about David Foster Wallace, or those who just want to see some fantastic performances and experience an evolving male relationship dynamic between two men with rich inner worlds.