"To make heads throb heartlike." It's a phrase the late David Foster Wallace used to describe the aim of his epic postmodern novel, Infinite Jest.
The End of the Tour, adapted from David Lipsky's book recounting his road trip with Wallace on the last leg of the Infinite Jest book tour in 1996, is all heart and no head.
Like My Dinner With Andre fuelled by candy, Pepsi and chewing tobacco, Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and Wallace (Jason Segel) talk about pop culture and women and the lapping tides of self-consciousness.
It's tricky to talk about a movie that's executed well enough but entirely wrong-headed, like appraising appetizers in a restaurant that's on fire.
The performances, the writing, the direction, Segel's D.F.W. impression, everything is just fine. But The End of the Tour is disgraceful. It feels like it's towing out the real Wallace's ghost to perform some soppy parody of himself.
The villain here is the real-life David Lipsky, a medium talent attempting to cash in on his brush with greatness. His story piles on schmaltz and tiresome self-loathing in a mawkish attempt at tribute that works self-servingly as a garish ad for Lipsky himself.
It's enough to give the heart a headache.