Back in 1996, shortly after David Foster Wallace released his seminal tome Infinite Jest, he embarked on a book tour through Middle America. On his last leg, he was joined by Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky for a five-day-long interview. Although the actual story was never published, the transcripts and audio tapes remained stored away in Lipsky’s closet and were later used to help write his account of the tale, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace. Now, the writers’ journey has been transformed into Sundance hit The End of the Tour.
Starring Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky and Jason Segel as Foster Wallace, the indie film details their short-lived friendship (after the interview concluded, the two men never met again). Through car-ride conversations and reflective narrative, the film tackles the complexity of the creative mind. It is, quite obviously, about two writers waxing poetic about the writing process and one’s internal exploration of humanity through words, but it is also—again, quite obviously—about Foster Wallace’s struggle with his newfound fame. (He would later commit suicide in 2008.)
The film, which seems to share some themes with Almost Famous (mentorship, unhappiness, uncertainty), marks an evolution in Segel’s career. The End of the Tour opens in select theaters July 31.