“The Leisure Seeker” May Not be the Road Trip Expected

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B-


The two reasons to go see the film “The Leisure Seeker” is Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland who have the lead role of husband and wife, Ella and John Spencer. They are two of my favorite actors and expected to enjoy it to the max – but really just enjoyed the performances due to the direction by Paolo Virzi of the adapted screenplay he co-wrote with Stephen Amidon (“Human Capital”), Francesca Archibugi, Francesco Piccolo, based on the novel by Michael Zadoorian. There are many very predictable scenes and this unfortunately misses the mark for what could have been a much more memorable film. The story line shows John, a retired English teacher, now has Alzheimer’s disease and Ella is taking medications. They make a great couple, but at times the attempt at “cute” humor by these elders falls flat instead of just exhibiting the reality of what they are going through together.

“The Leisure Seeker” is set in the summer of 2016, and Ella has decided to take John on a road trip that she thinks will help him. She fails to inform her two adult children, Will (Christian McKay) and Jane (Janel Moloney) – but purposefully, as she knows they would have never been on board for this escape to Key West in order to see the Hemingway house. The son freaks out and daughter is calmer as they try to figure out their disappearance (of course they have to be at odds in reaction).

John can remember things on occasion, so they look like they are getting along fine, but Ella is really exhausted. Since his memory comes and goes, he unpredictably remembers something from his past that pushes Ella to the brink. That is certainly a difficult scene to watch emotionally, but ultimately she loves her man and keeps him.

The early music in the film, Carole King’s “It’s Too Late,” really set me up thinking I was in for a very good treat. I can’t say I remember many more of the songs after that. The two professional actors will likely be the reason for many from the AARP set to go to the theater, especially if they see that it was a film screened at the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival last year.

The film also stars Dana Ivey and a cameo from Dick Gregory, among other supporting actors.

The film has English dialogue and a running time of 112 minutes. The film will open in Austin at the Regal Arbor 8 @ Great Hills.

Source: Sony Pictures Classics

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