Opening 4 Jan 2018
In this road trip movie, an aging couple is determined to have one last adventure together in their old RV, nicknamed The Leisure Seeker. Ella (Mirren) and John (Sutherland) set out in secrecy from their Boston suburb in order to elude their well-intended adult children and their endless doctors’ appointments and, it seems, to outrun John’s worsening Alzheimer’s. Their destination is Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West, Florida, but like all road-trip movies the story is more about the journey than the destination.
As they make their way southward along the East Coast, Ella attempts to jog John’s memory with nightly slide shows of their shared lives together, revealing both her tenderness for her long-time partner and her frustration with the way John’s disease has taken him away from her. She’s resolved to turn this last journey into an adventure however she can, but unfortunately their lives aren’t as problem-free as Ella would like to pretend, and the trip takes an unexpectedly unpleasant jaunt down memory lane.
Luckily this gives Mirren opportunity to show off her fine acting skills, but it also makes it clear that her talent is mostly wasted on a movie that’s thin on believability and long on cliché and predictability. Sutherland is an equally fine actor and enjoyable to watch onscreen, but there’s always the sense that they’re both playing characters rather than ever truly inhabiting their roles – perhaps because Ella and John are as flimsy as the film itself ultimately feels. Based on the book by Michael Zadoorian. (Diana Schnelle)