In Brief: It’s probably cruel to say this about an Alzheimer’s-themed movie, but it’s forgettable.
The Leisure Seeker of the title is the name of a Winnebago. It belongs to Donald Sutherland’s John Spencer and his wife Ella. She’s done by Helen Mirren who got a Golden Globe nomination for her role. It’s about the only positive thing that can be said for The Leisure Seeker.
Considering the star caliber and acting chops of the two principals, The Leisure Seeker is a major disappointment. Oh, I guess you could say Sutherland is pretty good, too. He’s a great actor and rarely disappoints. That, too, is a positive so I misspoke earlier.
Two positives and that’s about it.
John was once a literary scholar and teacher. He is in the final throes of Alzheimer’s and she’s determined he’s going to have one last great trip before completely losing his mind. Ella —you figure out quickly — isn’t in the best of health either.
In the film’s nearly two hours lots of things happen to the forgetful John and the oh-so-caring and very controlling Ella. All of it predictable. You have the expected happy-days-are-here-again scenes where the couple reminisce about days spent in the ancient Winnebago with the kids and the adventures they had as a family.
That’s the past and one John is rapidly forgetting. Then there’s the predictable chaos that must accompany an Alzheimer’s movie, or one about advanced dementia. When you see John by himself you know disaster is coming. When Ella sees John is gone and might be by himself, and up to who-knows-what, you know she’s going to panic.
And epically so.
Up and down the plot goes and when things get a little slack, scenes of the now grown kids worried about mom and pop are spliced in for filler.
Ella’s goal is to get John to Ernest Hemingway’s Florida home which has been turned into a museum. In better days Hemingway was his favorite and she feels guilty for having never made sure he had the pleasure of that visit. Not that John will likely remember the visit for long. Sort of like you’ll likely forget you’ve seen this movie minutes after leaving the theater.
Director: Paolo Virzi
Stars: Donald Sutherland, Helen Mirren, Janel Moloney, Kirsty Mitchell, Christian McKay, Dick Gregory, Mylie Stone
The Leisure Seeker is rated R for mature themes and language. Considering the acting talent, this one coulda been a lot better. Give it a 1 on the Average Joe Movie 0 to 5 scale.
5 to 4 1/2: Must see on the big screen.
4 to 3 1/2: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 to 2 1/2: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 to 1: Don’t bother.
0:Speaks for itself.
Gary Wolcott has been a movie consultant for KXL since 2014. A lifelong fan of film, he’s been a film critic in radio, television and newspaper for 28-years. Wolcott catches a couple of hundred movies a year and he sees a great many of them so you don’t have to.
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