The Leisure Seeker

In Cinemas Now

Oscar-winner Helen Mirren and two-time Golden Globe winner Donald Sutherland star in this road trip drama from the director of Like Crazy.

An elderly couple - the husband stricken with Alzheimer's, the wife acutely aware - take a final road trip along Route 66 to Disneyland in their faithful old RV they call The Leisure Seeker.

Trailers

Directed by

  • Paolo Virzì('Like Crazy', 'Human Capital', 'The First Beautiful Thing')

Written by

Drama

112mins

Rating: M Suicide & Euthanasia themes, sex scenes & offensive language

Italy, France

‘The Leisure Seeker’ is an old campervan in which Ella (Helen Mirren) and her husband John, a retired English professor (Donald Sutherland), drive from Boston to Key West on a pilgrimage to visit Ernest Hemingway’s house. John has Alzheimer’s. Ella has cancer. Yup, all the ingredients for a morbidly sentimental old folks’ road trip, but with two fine actors firing on all cylinders the result is a contrived exercise in sentimental heartstring-tugging, saved by excellent performances and just enough good humour to keep things bearable.

While back home their middle-aged children stress and fret about their runaway parents, John and Ellen journey through memories of their fifty-year marriage. The din of a noisy US presidential election campaign is drowned out by a sixties soundtrack featuring the likes of Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin and an original score composed by director Paolo Virzì. While The Leisure Seeker lacks originality or surprise, it's helped along by a cracking cast and Luca Bigazzi’s poignant cinematography. 

The film’s shifting tones, swinging wildly from amusing to sad, upbeat to sentimental, may be intentional, but result in a bumpy ride. If you find having your emotions manipulated by movies an irritating exercise, then best avoid this trip, but if you can silence your inner cynic and surrender to the melancholic magic generated by Mirren and Sutherland, beneath the cliché this pensioners’ road-trip offers some tender reflections on life, loss, aging and love.

Hollywood Reporter

press

A road movie short on comedy and drama should at least offer a keen level of observation, but here insight is scarce and emotional resonance is faint.

The Guardian (UK)

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The Leisure Seeker isn't the sort of picture to start meddling with ... formula, but it sets about its business with a satisfying efficiency.

Variety (USA)

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Not even two actors as talented as Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland can save this dreadfully predictable Alzheimer's road movie.

Screen International

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Cluttered with clichés and stalled in softness, pot-holed by its self-serving use of Alzheimer's as a narrative convenience.

New York Times

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The sentiment is admirable; the execution decidedly is not.

Los Angeles Times

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A soggy East Coast road trip saga in which Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland valiantly pretend that rogue treatment of debilitating illnesses has its funny/endearing side.

Little White Lies

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A funny and truthful look at growing old together.

TimeOut (New York)

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There are quieter moments during which the glances between Sutherland and Mirren - containing memories better left unvoiced - suggest something worthier than the dreck they're trapped in.

Stuff.co.nz (Graeme Tuckett)

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A neither engaging nor infuriating look at dementia.

Why so subtle? It was murder.

This starts out as an interesting film with some good acting by the two main stars - Donald and Helen. Most believable. I think it was a bucket list ride with an out clause. It portrayed the dementia process well except for Donald driving. Never really explained despite his frequent memory loss how he was able to remember to drive. There was some poignant moments in the movie - finding out about previous believed affairs and actual affairs, and the scarey grandad dumping in a nursing home. However the theme towards the end was played as suicide and euthanasia. However we were never lead to believes Donald's character wanted to die. He just didnt want to be alone. So for me this was a film about murder suicide - and so lost some of its charm.