This film is a fictionalized account of a road trip that took place between David Foster Wallace (Jason Segal) and David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg), a reporter for Rolling Stone. Wallace had just written a brilliant and critically-acclaimed novel (“Infinite Jest”), and so he agrees to allow Lipsky to interview him for an article to appear in Rolling Stone. They then spend about 10 days together while Wallace is wrapping up his tour to promote his over-1000-page masterpiece. Lipsky envies Wallace’s genius and notoriety, having published one novel himself (although not near Wallace’s class); however, he is ambitious and hopes to get there someday.
The movie opens with the news that Wallace has committed suicide 12 years after their trip. This film covers the road trip, the core of which is constructed from tape recordings Lipsky made while interviewing Wallace. The viewer is essentially a “fly-on-the-wall”, eavesdropping on their conversations, which are fascinating. They remind me of rap sessions I had with friends in college and medical school (although Wallace’s take on life is more intelligent and perceptive than any I ever recall having). Their conversations cover all kinds of interesting topics including existential angst, loneliness, creativity, fame, depression, self-esteem, alcohol and drugs, exploitation, image, and relationships, among others. There isn’t any action or plot, but you won’t be bored. There are also many funny and clever lines interspersed with their essentially serious reflections on life. (Props to screenwriter Donald Margolies.)
Jason Segal (“How I Met Your Mother”) gives an AWW performance, but the role doesn’t have quite enough range for him to win. Einsenberg is well suited for the part, although he is essentially being himself rather than acting.
The film will work fine as a rental, but it is good enough to see now on the BS.