the leisure seeker
DIRECTOR: paolo virzi (Like crazy, human capital, every blessed day)
STARRING: donald sutherland, helen mirren, janel moloney, and christian mckay.
REVIEWER: emily carter
Traveling in their family Leisure Seeker vintage recreational vehicle, John and Ella Spencer take one last road trip from Boston to the Hemingway House in the Florida Keys.
John (Donald Sutherland) is a retired literature professor in the early stages of Alzheimer's, and his wife Ella (Helen Mirren) is quickly getting caught by health concerns of her own. Ella, with her sweet Southern drawl, knows time is of the essence, so picks their favourite pastime to make an escape of sorts. Without warning, the couple are in their RV, named Leisure Seeker, on a journey from Boston towards The Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West.
Played by Donald Sutherland and Academy Award winner Helen Mirren, The Leisure Seeker is one you immediately sit up and watch. With such big names behind it, this film has the potential to make a wave. And for me, their lofty and layered characters did. As their past and present lives are unpacked before our eyes, it's all quite heart-warming and heart-breaking in equal measures.
Paired with beautiful American landscapes, solid humour, your typical road trip hiccups, as well as sobering moments, sickness and secrets, your interest is piqued at points throughout the film.
Mirren spins in and out of sweetness and angry despair while Sutherland slips and slides between decades - they're superb as separate characters, as well as soulmates. If only the meandering storyline could match such robust actors.
We get small whiffs of their two adult children, without ever knowing them as characters at all. There are moments that feel like they're about to have gravity, but fall woefully short. It overall feels like a bit of a "small" story for Mirren and Sutherland, and not always in an endearing way. We walked out feeling like the movie was a lot longer than it's 1hr 53min.
I fear this will be a more forgettable film of both the actors', but it can't be denied that they wowed with what they had.
A bittersweet snapshot of life, all in one wild RV ride - The Leisure Seeker has the acting chops, but perhaps not the points for plot.