Despite the acting quality of stars Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, “The Leisure Seeker,” gets to be a slog as it goes along with questionable credibility. Directed by Paolo Virzi, “The Leisure Seeker” chronicles the exploits of an elderly couple making a last stand of freedom and dignity.
Mirren plays Ella, and Sutherland is her husband John, who is losing his memory but still has a connection to his love of literature amid lucid moments. Ella decides that they’ll take off in the family camper from home in Massachusetts to Key West, where John always wanted to visit the home of Ernest Hemingway, for whom he had admiration.
The couple disappears much to the despair of their adult children, with whom they don’t want to be in touch. Absurdly, John drives the vehicle despite his in-and-out mental state. Ella is a back-seat-driver sitting in the front. As we ultimately learn, she has a secret.
Their adventures along the way are unsettling. There is a sequence in which Ella gets so fed up with John that she checks him into a senior residence and temporarily disappears.
At one point John inadvertently mentally retreats into the past, revealing that he had an affair. Of course, Ella is furious. We watch the ups and downs of their road trip that has become important to both. At a particular stop they stumble into a crowd of rallying Trump supporters, and John, a Democrat, joins in without knowing why.
And so it goes. Traveling and bickering. Bickering and traveling. We are supposed to recognize the love beneath it all and Mirren and Sutherland do their best to bring excellent acting to the project. How will it end? It does in a logical way, but not soon enough. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Reviewed March 9, 2018.