September 12, 2008. The Earth lost one of the most gifted wordsmiths it had ever seen. I imagine that if David Foster Wallace had lived on my planet, which we are calling Venus but is exactly much, much further away, and spoke one of the many many complex languages from there he would have been just as gifted. True artistry isn’t tied to one medium. It is a way of perceiving the world, and a way of expressing that perception to others.
But on to the movie, which is the subject of this review. Jason Segel brings David Foster Wallace to the screen with almost an eerily similar look and affect. Jesse Eisenberg, the ever-curly-headed, portrays David Lipsky, a journalist from Rolling Stone magazine who is writing a profile on Wallace. Although that profile was eventually never published, Lipsky did write a book entitled The End of the Tour about this interview. While the movie itself is not anything to write home about, it does have its moments.
The true star in this movie is Jason Segel, who dives head first into the myth and the legend that is David Foster Wallace, and does his best to portray the excruciatingly intelligent but also painfully uncomfortable man. Not only does Segel look the part, with long hair tied back into a loose ponytail and an ever present bandana, but he talks just like him and moves in a way that only Wallace could have.
This is probably the most remarkable performance that Segel has ever done. Not to diminish his other work, but to compliment him on his ever expanding range. The lovable buffoon from How I Met Your Mother was not just a buffoon after all, but a carefully crafted persona that a true thespian created because it was what was necessary for the part. And Segel uses those same skills here, bringing Wallace to audiences that may never have known his work otherwise. And for that we can all be greatful.
The few days that Lipsky spent with Wallace may not have held much significance at the time, but as Lipsky learns of Wallace death by his own hand on that September morning those few days take on a new meaning. To hear Wallace and Lipsky discuss depression and suicidal thoughts so openly will seem somewhat prescient to those watching the movie, but this is simply what Wallace was occupied with for most of his life. And tragically it is what led him to end that life as well.
Infinite Jest will live on as one of the greatest pieces of literay artwork that the Earth has ever seen, and rightfully so. If this movie inspires one single human to pick it up that would not have otherwise, than this movie deserves just as much recognition. Thank you David Foster Wallace, Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, and David Lipsky. Thank you very much.
Puck from Venus, to infinity and beyond!!