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An especially striking aspect of The End of the Tour is how much everyone likes each other. This is most obvious in the reaction to David Foster Wallace’s (Jason Segel) radio interview in Minneapolis. His driver Patty (a note-perfect Joan Cusack) cheers about how perfectly it went and how much she is enjoying Infinite Jest, whereas a more cynical film would make this character totally clueless about her client.

This is not to say there is no conflict, but what conflict there is is driven not by resentment but by jealousy and overindulgence. Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) wants to be Wallace, but Wallace rebukes him and deep down, Lipsky knows this is not quite right. Wallace has a wealth of sadness lurking not so deeply in his psyche. He has an eclectic appreciation for both high and low culture. Paradoxically, this deep capacity exacerbates his emptiness. It overwhelms him, and the success it confers him does not remove the profound lack that never goes away. Wallace and Lipsky seek pleasure and fulfillment outside themselves, which is fine, but (to paraphrase the book the film is based on) they still remain themselves.

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