Spared or Spoiled Reviews: The End of the Tour

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

The End of the Tour (A24 Films)

The End of the Tour-poster

Directed by James Ponsoldt

Written by Donald Margulies  Based on Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself by David Lipsky

Starring Jason SegelJesse EisenbergRon LivingstonAnna ChlumskyJoan CusackMickey SumnerMamie Gummer & Becky Ann Baker

An interview with author David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest), The End of the Tour is a love song to the writer. The lonely writer. The exposed writer. The insecure writer. An epic conversation. Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel play writers at different stages of success and different degrees of mental stability. I don’t know. I liked the movie. It is very well-written. Most movies about writers are. But I found myself thinking, time and again while it was running, about how good this movie would have been with better actors. How this was incredible writing and directing but the acting was just… passing. It became an obsession really. Don’t get me wrong. Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel are very good. But this movie deserved… this writing deserved… these characters deserved… these people deserved… better. But still I liked it.

Verdict: SPARED

Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel

“Oh good. Here comes the mental masturbation.”

Regular readers of my blog may know that I have an affinity for films about writers. I love the written word (and writers) and hope to some day put down my penis long enough to write. But I’m also a big fan of movies. So, the combination (writers on film) is for me like the memory of a wonderfully comfortable three-way with two people you trust, a three-way with two people who you know are more into you than each other. Something that really puts the me in ménage à trois. The End of the Tour.

Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace

“I love it when he gets like this.”

Here is a movie that has added several new titles to my reading list (thanks for that). Here is a movie that makes me wish the penis in my hand were shorter (sorry). Shorter by two letters. Then at least it would serve a higher purpose right along with making me temporarily happy. David Foster Wallace, the subject of the interview, and the book about the interview, and the movie about the book about the interview, is an addict and a recluse and an exposed nerve, just like me. But I couldn’t see myself in him.

Epic Conversation

“Trust me. This could be good if he stops talking about his penis.”

Unlike me, he is fully capable of writing it all down. Unlike me, he doesn’t just form sentences in the air and pat himself on the back for his cleverness. Unlike me, he doesn’t just talk about writing. He writes it. And I get this. And I get it all from a movie where he spends the entire time talking about writing. But he gets it too. He gets to because he forces it onto the page and it’s good. He actually puts in the work. Unlike me.


“First time listener. Long time caller and I’d like to make a request.” “What’s on your mind?” “I’d like for Mel to write something and stop complaining about not writing.” “Wouldn’t we all.”

In The End of the Tour, David Lipsky is the writer writing about the writer. Interviewing the writer. The conductor of this grand conversation. This duel between unequals. Writers at different levels of popularity. Minds at different levels of unrest. But who stands above whom is for the viewers to decide. Because I still don’t think the writers themselves knew. Or that they knew themselves beyond their fragility and sensitivity and stretches of brilliance and paranoia. I really liked this movie, if you can’t tell.

David Lipsky and David Foster Wallace

“Could you tell?” “No. I still can’t tell.”

However, I couldn’t help but wish there were two other actors on the screen. Two other astronauts in the shuttle. Mission control had done their jobs well. The book is great. The screenplay is great. And the film is very well-directed. All the minds were in place. The science is sound. I just couldn’t feel anything. And I wanted to feel something. It was all cerebral and I wanted more of the physical. I loved the characters. I wanted to love the actors. But I didn’t. (Houston, we have a problem)

Epic Conversation 2

“I get it now. He likes us. He just doesn’t like US.” ” Fuck him.” “Yeah.” “Go write something, Melvin. Go write something and then get back to us.” “Yeah.”

Yet still, The End of the Tour is a good movie. While Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel do good jobs as David and David, with better actors, I think, I would be calling this one of the best films of the year. As it is, it’s just a good one. A good one for people who like stories about writers and who don’t mind watching a movie where it’s mostly just two intense and creative smart guys talking to each other for an hour and a half. A truly epic conversation.

Now if you’ll excuse me. I need to go write something.

– Mel

The Real David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace (and one of his dogs) in happier times.


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