I saw this movie recently in an airplane. Had been wanting to see it for a time now.
I really wanted to like it. I really appreciate the type of relationship I thought this movie was about: Salieri and Mozart, Bruno and Charlie Parker/Jhonny Carter. Dave Foster Wallace seems to be an icon of this generation. One third Wharhol, with his addoration for popular culture, one third Silicon Valley bookish nerd and one third Hemingway, suicide and everything.
The movie sets off in the right path. But Jesse Enseinberg seems to be “too something” for this role. I cannot quite point what. Too cute? Too neurotic? Too detached? He comes across like an asshole. His supposed adoration/jealousy of the man he is interviewing does not come across. Or, if he worships the book and not the man, that does not comes across either. The relationship between the two is full of dialogues like:
“I can really talk to you. I really like you. Do you like me back?”
First of all, quite limited. Second, I guess the guys who wrote the script did not even trust those feelings to come across without stating them plainly in the dialogue. It needs to be explicitly said: “I like you”. The rest of what they say to each other is trying to be deep without really being convincingly deep, or even passing as deep. The spark in the conversation is not there. The writers should watch “Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight” movies to learn about enthralling, twisting, moving conversations.
And then there is Jason Segel interpreting DFW. I am sorry. I do not buy it/him. Maybe I have seen too much “How I met your mother”. He is by far the most talented of that bunch. But there is no edge to him. He is like a furry bear wanting to a play a desperate drug addict. I do get his compassion, his honesty an decency. The rest is missing. His hidden brilliance is so well hidden we do not even intuit it is there. Even his forceful denial of heroin addiction comes as a half full balloon going “pffffff”.
There were a couple of interesting observations/situations: his TV addiction and how he deals with it (hit home for me, gulp), the parallels of consuming (and being pleasured by) too much junk food and consuming too much junk pop culture. He foresaw “The Bachelor” and “American Next Top Model” all too well. But then again, that is him, his words, not the movie building a context under which those words resonate loud and clear.
I ended up wanting more. Will read Lipsky’s book which is apparently very good.