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The End of the Tour Begins with Film

  • August 04, 2015

The End of the Tour tells the story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter and novelist David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel), which took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace’s groundbreaking epic novel, “Infinite Jest.” Director James Ponsoldt and cinematographer Jakob Ihre brought the film to life based on Lipsky’s critically acclaimed memoir “Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace,” which was written following Wallace’s 2008 suicide.

The End of the Tour is a road movie that never leaves the Midwest, which was Wallace’s home for the majority of his life. The Middle American landscape became a guidepost for the look of the film – but Ponsoldt didn’t want a clichéd, folksy heartland at all.  The film, in many ways, is simply a multi-day conversation. But beyond that it has a real heartbeat, is tense with conflict, and has emotion that creeps up on you.

“It was important that the Midwestern landscape be part of the soul of the film,” says Ponsoldt.  “This is the world where Wallace was formed – a land of late night diners and the largest mall in America – and it’s full of ideas that Wallace engages with in his fiction. Both the heights of our consumerist, technological culture and how one maintains one’s humanity in the face of that are exemplified there.”

The End of the Tour premiered at Sundance this year. Ponsoldt and Ihre chose Kodak film to convey the look and emotions of the intimate story.

“We really wanted the film to be as warm as it could be,” says Ponsoldt. “Jakob and I looked at a lot of very lush films – we looked at Wong Kar-Wai’s In The Mood For Love and even Doctor Zhivago – and we talked about using very subtle things to make this world really inviting, with an intimate camera.”

As the final cut of The End of the Tour came into view it showed all of its many influences – starting with Lipsky’s book, then Donald Margulies’ idea-rich screenplay, then Ponsoldt’s approach of making a road movie about unrequited friendship, then the cast and crew’s visceral performances.  Along the way, somehow the film ended up becoming itself. The End of the Tour rolls out in theaters this summer.