The Leisure Seeker is not a jolly film. There are one or two laugh out loud moments, but it might sadden, depress or even anger you.
Perhaps it will make you think about ageing and one’s ultimate control over one’s body, and embracing every opportunity. If you’re of the ‘glass half full’ mindfulness, you’ll be cheering on the two central characters and celebrating their ‘be damned’ attitude.
Donald Sutherland is charming as John, an ex-university professor struggling with Alzheimers. His South Carolina wife, Ella (Helen Mirren) struggles to accept her husband’s condition – she flits between support and anger. At times, her approach towards him rings true of a flippancy akin in southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara.
‘Oh John, what does go on in that mind of yours?’
Ella arranges a road trip to take John to visit his idol Ernest Hemingway’s house in Florida. She omits to tell their children Will (Christian McKay) and Jane (Janel Moloney) who attempt to keep tabs on the pair from afar with very little information. The couple’s one-last hurrah road trip sets the scene for a number of adventures – an attempted robbery by a couple of young punks is very amusing – but turns into a series of vignettes that see them reacquaint themselves with each other.
For a couple who’ve lived with each other for so long, the dialogue can feel a little stilted.
You quickly get the sense that time is running out for the pair. So much of the film is focused on John, that you believe they must reach Hemingway’s house while he can still remember his hero’s prose and poetry. Only much later in the film, do you realise that Ella is the ticking clock, and her final actions bring the purpose of the trip into full colour.
About The Leisure Seeker
Directed by: Paolo Virzi
Written by: Stephen Amidon, Francesca Archibugi, Francesco Piccolo, Paolo Virzi, based upon the book by Michael Zadoorian
Stars: Donald Sutherland, Helen Mirren, Janel Moloney, Christian McKay, Dana Ivey