David Foster Wallace, genius nonfiction writer and boundary-pushing novelist, killed himself in 2008 at the age of 46. It's still incredibly fresh and painful for many acquainted with his work. Meaning there's no way The End of the Tour, the biographical film by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now), can simply be a flick where the damningly underestimated Jason Segel plays DFW for a couple hours.
But that will be a part of it, and possibly the crux of it, this performance. We've been dying to see—and dying at the potential discomfort, disappointment, sadness of seeing—the star of How I Met Your Mother, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Muppets as one of the most distinctive literary icons of modern times. Now's our first glimpse.
The End of the World's trailer barely scratches the surface of the ways this effort will either fail or succeed. David Foster Wallace's trademark bandana and slackery everyman outfits are superimposed faithfully onto Segel's hulking self. The measured, deep, goofy clusters of dialogue between Segel's Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg's David Lipsky—the one writing a long profile on DFW—feel authentic and also kind of mawkishly movie-ish.
But this is a film where two very famous, frequently typecast actors play two writers (with vastly different cultural footprints) conversing for days on end, on the road in America. A trailer can't be any more thorough than the jacket copy on a 400-page novel—so we're still just as intrigued, and still just as "nervous," to cop DFW's language here. We'll get to judge the whole picture on July 31.