Raymond Bechard reviews an important movie for men and mankind.
David Foster Wallace created a legacy he could never foresee. Or maybe he did and that’s what terrified and depressed him. That there is now a movie about Wallace would not surprise him. He never underestimated America’s penchant for voyeurism. His books, essays, interviews – and one incredible speech—give insight to a culture and a man on the verge of greatness and insanity, proving the line between the two is very thin.
With the release of The End Of The Tour, we catch a small glimpse into Wallace, a man torn by his own hyper self-awareness. The movie follows Wallace (Jason Segel) verbally sparring and bonding with Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) through five days as Wallace completes a publicity tour for his massive novel, Infinite Jest in 1996.
When I saw The End Of The Tour at the Sundance Film Festival last January, I witnessed a film that has the ability to redefine our perspective of ourselves as men, of America and of one of its greatest authors.
Here are seven reasons to see the film this weekend . . . and to go with a man:
#1 – You find out there was a guy named David Foster Wallace. One of the greatest authors of the past half-century, Wallace is a man you should know. If you dare look at his life and death, he brings you closer to your naked, no bullshit self.
#2 – You will want to read him. Filled with painful satire, intellectual depth, dark humor, and excruciating detail, Wallace’s writing culminates leaving you forever changed and emotionally attached to his work. And being attached to it pushes you into a kind of journey you didn’t know you could take.
#3 – You will be motivated to listen to his speech, “This Is Water.” While the movie borrows dialogue directly from his commencement speech given at Kenyon College in 2005, don’t miss the recording of the real thing. It is easily one of the greatest speeches of this young century.
#4 – You need to see a great movie about fascinating characters with an incredibly intelligent script. All too rare are movies that trust their audiences to understand and accept that much of life is misunderstood and unacceptable. You get smarter watching The End Of The Tour. You also gain the kind of sadness that comes with deeper wisdom about our human faults and frailty.
#5 – You need to watch the emergence of a great actor. Maybe you’ve seen Jason Segel in How I Met Your Mother or Forgetting Sarah Marshal. Believe me, you’ve never seen this Jason Segal. Here is an actor with a role that redefines him. The best part is you really don’t see Jason Segal at all. You see David Foster Wallace.
#6 – You will see two men interacting in a way few of us ever do. This is a story of two men who are at odds with one another over writing, success, manhood, women and modern life. They also admire each other, are jealous of one another, agree, disagree and yes, at times, like each other. It’s no coincidence that the movie is takes place in the cold of winter. These are two men adrift on an metaphorical iceberg, each circling around the other, determining if they are friend or foe. This is why you should go to the movie with another man. The ride home will either be filled with stimulating discussion . . . or awkwardly silent.
#7 – Nothing blows up. No one hits anyone. No one gets shot. (There is an off camera death, but hey, it’s a true story and that’s unavoidable.) If explosions and comic books are all you want to see while sitting in the dark, The End Of The Tour is not your film. But, if you want to escape this summer’s parade of IMAX delusional candy for the senses, see this movie soon. See it and be fed.
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