David Foster Wallace, the mathematics he was infatuated with, was similar to a statistical anomaly. He did not conform to patterns of society; instead he marched to the beat of his own drum, and because of this, was one of the most profound writers of the last two decades. In the film The End of the Tour we follow Wallace's (Jason Segel) rise in the literary world after his breakthrough novel Infinite Jest becomes an overnight sensation.
The film revolves around the relationship between Rolling Stone magazine's David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) as he accompanies Foster Wallace on his tour to get an exclusive on- on-one interview. Segel steals the film with his deadpan delivery and the film highlights the themes of the book very well, such as the role of entertainment, consumerism and the need to be connected through those avenues in order to feel validated. Eisenberg seems to be treading familiar territory with his depiction of Lipsky, he doesn't get out of his comfort zone, and you feel cheated because he is obviously miscasted in this role. Segel is the real vehicle for The End of the Tour and he does a great job of not making a caricature out of Foster Wallace and his memory.
The director James Ponsoldt captures the essence of who Wallace was, vying for a more understated approach, which suits the film very well. The screenplay by David Margulies could have used more development on Wallace's philosophies on life and it falls victim to the curse of pointless side characters, when all that's needed is the unique relationship of Wallace and Lipsky. To be fair not all the blame should be placed on Margulies, some of that can be shifted towards Lipsky. The interviews he originally conducted with Wallace were never published. Whether the unpublished articles were better than the memoir he released years later, no one will know ever know. All we have to remember the tour by is Lipsky's recorder and personal reflections. Long live the pale king.