'The End of the Tour': Infinitely impressed by Jason Segel

Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel star in "The End of the Tour." Courtesy Modern Man Films.

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Segel, Mamie Gummer, Anna Chlumsky and Joan Cusack; directed by James Ponsoldt; R for language including some sexual references; 106 minutes

In the mid- and late 1990s it became a thing to read David Foster Wallace's thousand-page, 3-pound masterwork "Infinite Jest," or at least carry it around and claim you were reading it.

The rave reviews and widespread popularity of the book turned the tall, bandana-wearing Wallace into a literary rock star, something he found equal parts fascinating and mortifying. Wallace was a quirky, sometimes socially awkward, troubled artist who battled depression for decades and took his own life in 2008 at the age of 46.

Wallace's life and work could be the subject of a towering, serious biopic, and maybe that'll happen someday, but in the meantime we have the whip-smart and consistently funny "The End of the Tour." It's a brilliant slice of life, concentrating on a key period in Wallace's career.

Jesse Eisenberg is David Lipsky, a twitchy, brainy, talented and self-absorbed writer who gets a plum assignment from Rolling Stone: spend five days with Wallace (Jason Segel) as the celebrated author winds up a multi-city tour to promote his best-selling book. Lipsky accompanies Wallace on a PR trip to Minneapolis; engages in rapid-fire banter with Wallace about all manner of subjects; and prods Wallace to talk about some dark chapters in his past.

What a performance from Segel. We see glimpses of Wallace's troubled side, from an intense and unwarranted outburst at Lipsky to a disturbing glimpse into Wallace's addiction to junk TV, but Wallace is also a funny, thoughtful, sweet man. Thanks in large part to Segel's career-best work, this is one of the best movies of the year.

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-times

Load comments