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With: Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland, Janel Moloney, Christian McKay, Dana Ivey, Dick Gregory
Written by: Stephen Amidon, Francesca Archibugi, Francesco Piccolo, Paolo Virzi, based on a novel by Michael Zadoorian
Directed by: Paolo Virzi
MPAA Rating: R for some sexual material
Running Time: 112
Date: 03/09/2018

The Leisure Seeker (2018)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Scrappy Campers

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This soft, languid road movie benefits from high-class actors Mirren and Sutherland, and they share a genuine chemistry together, but despite some lovely moments, the movie meanders and becomes lost.

In The Leisure Seeker, Will Spencer (Christian McKay) arrives at the home of his mother, Ella (Helen Mirren) and literature professor father John (Donald Sutherland), only to find that they are gone, having taken their 1975 Winnebago Indian — dubbed "The Leisure Seeker" — and hit the road. John's memory is slowly fading and he has trouble remembering things, and this is meant to be a kind of last hurrah, so Ella refuses to tell her worried son and daughter Jane (Janel Moloney) where they are.

They are pulled over by cops and held at knifepoint by thugs, but they also dance in an expensive hotel room and enjoy outdoor slideshows of their lives together. Things come to a head when Ella learns of an old secret and when she collapses at Hemingway's house. But no matter what, the couple vows to never be apart again.

The Leisure Seeker is structured in little segments, one largely disconnected from the next, and when the movie stays light and hopeful, these work. But when they become focused on John's dementia, things take a melancholy turn that is inescapable and hopeless. And even some of the lighter scenes — such as the attempted mugging — fail to work because they're too light; they don't feel like life.

The role of the children, played ably by McKay and Moloney, don't quite fit anywhere, either. They mostly talk about their parents and argue about their care, but the movie doesn't really address much beyond that.

The wonderful moments show the older couple's bond at its strongest, when they are almost able to understand each other's thoughts, or how to work each other's moods, but even these tend to feel upturned by the movie's mournful ending. Yet the characters are in place; if only The Leisure Seeker could have been a more truthful movie, and shorter one.

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