Coming to theaters from director Paolo Virzi and Sony Picture Classics is a film about the journeys we sometimes need to take to appreciate our lives with “The Leisure Seeker.”
Stopping to check on her parents, Jane Spencer (Janel Moloney) discovers they are not at home. Calling brother Will (Christian McKay), it becomes quickly clear that not only are the folks gone — but so is their motor home, called The Leisure Seeker. Family friend Lillian (Dana Ivey) is in a panic wanting them to be found quickly.
But Ella Spencer (Helen Mirren) and husband John (Donald Sutherland) are focusing on their trip. Making one stop to call home to reassure them that everything is fine, Ella does her best to explain that they just want a few days for themselves.
Ella is the commander-in-chief of the road trip, and it is clear that something is wrong with John. Once a college professor, he now has moments of forgetfulness and random walks that keep her on high alert. Yet, down the road they go, remembering their lives together. Stopping at campgrounds, they spend evenings with one another and even unexpected events on the road are hilarious.
But, with all trips down memory lane, each of us remembers things differently, and Ella learns that perhaps some memories are best left unspoken.
Mirren as Ella is a woman with the patience of a saint. As Ella and John reminisce about their lives, she is clearly happy with the journey they shared together. That’s not to say there aren’t times of frustration, but their memories and joys are solid in her heart. Mirren is such a fantastic actress, and watching her bring this character such depth and emotion smack forward is a privilege to watch.
Sutherland as John is a man who has lived in a world of knowledge that world changes daily. The trip with Ella brings back the memories of their own children growing up and the many students he taught. Feeling that things are slowly becoming out of his control, it takes one sentence to bring out a secret that could fracture them. I love Sutherland’s humor mixed with the snide one-liners from Mirren. It is a dance they do with such finesse.
Moloney as Jane starts off worrying, but slowly listens to her mother Ella say they need time together. Backing off, she tries to convince Will to let them have some time. McKay as Will isn’t as thrilled about the road trip as his sister. Ivey as Lillian has been a friend of the family since their younger years. She believes the trip is insane as well!
“The Leisure Seeker” is a film that touches every fiber of a human being. The connection for each of us is that this could quite easily be the story of our own parents. For the parents, it could easily be the story of trying to make life easier for their children.
These two elderly parents want to hit the road and feel the wind on their faces. They want to remember the good that has been their lives and come to terms with the not so good moments. Sutherland and Mirren are perfection, forcing me to stop and truly listen to the color of their moments.
This film will break hearts because we are witnessing the story of a couple who has seen so much in their lives. Clearly, they both have medical issues, and yet in the midst of that, there is humor that can only be portrayed by these two amazing actors.
I love that the music of “The Leisure Seeker” adds not only to their attempt at moments of fun but also the amazing love when things go a little wrong. This is a story that I will truly carry with me for a long time to come.
In the end — a once in a lifetime road trip they will never forget!