THE LEISURE SEEKER – A Review by John Strange
One of the reasons I love to watch films is that occasionally I find a small film that gives me a fresh look at something I thought I already knew or understood. The Leisure Seeker is one of those stories.
In today's world, many families are dealing with cancer or Alzheimers, or both. The aging parents are lucky if one of the children is willing to sacrifice most if not all of their time to care for them. In the case of our story, both parents are ill. John Spencer (Donald Sutherland) is slowly losing himself to Alzheimers while his wife of fifty years, Ella (Helen Mirren) is dying of cancer.
The kids, Jane (Janel Moloney) and Will (Christian McKay), have decided that they must split the couple up for their own good, ostensibly so that the two can get the care they truly need. Instead, John and Ella escape in their 1975 Winnebago christened "The Leisure Seeker" for one last road trip. They head south on a pilgrimage to the Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West, a place John has wanted to visit for their whole marriage.
Along the way, we watch as John slowly worsens, the bad spells slowly getting longer and worse each day. Ella is taking pain pills to give her just a little longer with the man she loves. We also see a bit of Americana as the motor home slowly works its way south.
This is a very nice film about a truly loving couple who are determined to remain together on their own terms. It is also one of the saddest stories I have seen in a long time. Well crafted with good direction and excellent acting. The stars' portrayals of John and Ella is spot on. For them I give the film an "A". I liked the film but the story is almost too sad to watch (based on my personal history).
I recommend it to all adults but DO NOT take any kids to see this film. They will not understand the story and a couple of scenes are not children friendly which is what got them their "R" rating. This is a story that I think the Alzheimer's Association will be able to use to show people a little of what families go through because of this affliction.
Directed by: Paolo Virzì
Cast: Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland, Christian Mckay, Janel Moloney, Dana Ivey, Dick Gregory
MPAA Rating: R (for some sexual material)
Selig Rating: A
Runtime: 112 Min.
Movie Site: sonyclassics.com/theleisureseeker/
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.