Wednesday, 9 December 2015

REVIEW - THE END OF THE TOUR (JAMES PONSOLDT)


Movies like this could almost make one forgive the shortcomings of... well, other movies like this. The End of the Tour is a canny little snapshot of the psyche of a modern American male: white, middle-class, burdened by ennui that the generation that raised him could never have foreseen. And he's artistic, wherein lies the rub - this particular male is rare in society, but common in culture, so common that the thought of sitting through yet another trite exploration of the trials of existence for these slovenly, entitled, overgrown Milkybar kids put me off The End of the Tour for some time. Indeed, until I actually did sit through it. It almost made me forgive the shortcomings of those other movies, and this one too - how one must suffer when primed, as a promising Caucasian XY chromo, for a generous embrace by one's peers, only to discover that one has all too few peers. Small-town Midwest must be no place for a liberal member of the intellectual elite. That same intellect is employed in Donald Margulies' screenplay, dense in dialogue (as it should be, being a work about an extended conversation between two writers) and, crucially, perceptive about and empathetic toward the details of these such minds. It made me identify with two obnoxious, nerdy manchilds (although it didn't have too far to stretch in this case), much as I was loathe to do so. Because, otherwise, on what to recommend The End of the Tour? Jason Segel pulls off a fine, if occasionally calculated, impression of the farthest extremity of intellectual ennui - just depression, actually - and there's nothing especially wrong about James Ponsoldt's direction. It's artistically nondescript, intellectually satisfactory, strongest on character development. It's the movie that so many other movies want to be. Would that I'd seen this movie first.