May 272014

david foster wallace biopic

Finally got my hands on a screener of the forthcoming David Foster Wallace biopic, “The End of the Tour.” It’s an adaptation of an unpublished Rolling Stone interview/Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, and stars Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg. On first viewing, it’s pretty good. Segel speaks in a what sounds like a British accent (??), but he gets Wallace’s mannerisms down, and the effects they used to make him look really sweaty are convincing (though, come to think of it, he may actually just be wearing some mechanized geysers under his clothes).

The biggest issue for me is related to the film’s subtitle: Beneath the Bandana. Going in, I thought it was a sort of meaningless flourish, or whatever. But, from the beginning, it’s clear that it’s actually a question the film wants to ANSWER. And so when the Wallace character is speaking, the camera will constantly be zooming in on the bandana. Then it cuts back to Eisenberg’s interviewer, and he’ll be all squinting and rubbing his chin and craning his neck around – trying to catch a glimpse of whatever the Wallace character has in there!

Or, more accurately, what he’s hiding in there. The Wallace character is presented as singularly devoted to concealing that secret. He’s always clumsily placing his hands and arms in front of it, and whenever he seems to sense that the camera is zooming in, he’ll start trying to move his head out of the frame.

To be clear, the film doesn’t end up showing what’s beneath it, so don’t go if that’s the number one reason you want to see this. But without revealing too much, there IS a brief teaser at the end that features Jonathan Franzen and that “deskeletonizing amulet” that’s always popping up in his books…so perhaps we’ll find out more in future installments?

Fingers crossed.

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