Sunday, November 1, 2015
Video review: "The End of the Tour"
More people bought tickets for “Fifty Shades of Grey” on its 17th day in release than did for “The End of the Tour” during its entire theatrical run. We get the cinema we deserve, people.
This amazing film, one of the year’s best, is the story of two young writers who connect and clash in 1996. David Foster Wallace has just published his novel “Infinite Jest” to great acclaim. David Lipsky is interviewing him for Rolling Stone magazine, at his own insistence.
As introverted men of similar backgrounds who live through their words, there is a natural affinity between them, but also a large potential for antipathy. Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg), whose own novel has just flopped, envies Wallace for his success. Every question he puts forward seems to have the unspoken addendum, “Why you and not me?”
Wallace – played by Jason Segel, in a career-changing performance – is defensive, outwardly shy but with an iron inner core of ego. He can’t stand the idea of somebody else drafting the narrative that will define him. He senses Lipsky’s resentment, and responds with indignation.
It’s the story of two guys who, in other circumstances, might have become best of friends but are nudged toward hostility by professional jealousy and circumstance. Looming over it all is the weight of knowledge about Wallace’s death in 2008 by suicide, which acts as a framing device for the story.
If you don’t think 106 minutes of essentially nothing more than two guys talking can’t be exhilarating, then prepare to be shocked. “The End of the Tour” deserves our attention.
Bonus features are quite good, anchored by a feature-length audio commentary track by director James Ponsoldt, screenwriter Donald Margulies and Segel. Though the absence of Eisenberg nettles, the best commentaries come when all three legs of the core creative triad – writing, acting, directing – are represented.
There are also deleted scenes, an interview with composer Danny Elfman and a making-of documentary short. Extras are the same for DVD and Blu-ray versions.