Ella (Helen Mirren) and John (Donald Sutherland) play a retired couple who in a bid to escape from their protective children decide to take a road trip in their old winnebago, christened the ‘The Leisure Seeker’. In what starts to as a trip memory lane, their route segue-ways into a deeply revealing ride into their past lives and the secrets they’ve both kept from each other.
In the ever-safe acting hands of Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren, ‘The Leisure Seeker’ is a satisfying and competent movie which shows off the range of their respective talents. Whilst its script and direction may occasionally verge towards the unremarkable, the quality of ‘The Leisure Seeker’s’ lead’s both shine on regardless. Sporting a silver mane and an evergreen wistful twinkle in his eye, Donald Sutherland seamlessly shifts gears in a genuinely affecting performance as John, and in doing so, reminds you of what a class act he is. Similarly alongside him, Helen Mirren’s earnest and heartfelt take as John’s wife Ella will steer you from comedy to heart break and back again in a way that almost makes you wish ‘The Leisure Seeker’ had been more of a dramatic tale than comedy vehicle, given the gas in the tank.
Sadly where ‘The Leisure Seeker’s frame genuinely starts to creek is in its handling and depiction of Ella and John’s over-protective children. Unloved and somewhat underwritten, their roles feel more catalytic than convincing in the later dramas that will unfold down the road. That said, despite lacking the rent and pain of an ‘On Golden Pond’, which might have lifted it up into a more insightful classic, ‘The Leisure Seeker’ still manages to bounce along as an enjoyable comedy drama. Riffing on the prospect of growing old and the challenges that await us all, ‘The Leisure Seeker’ (like ‘The Last Marigold Hotel’,) relies more on the comedic conflict of a modern world crashing into people’s memories than the melodramas of children corralling parents in their twilight years.
With a refreshingly brave and yet saccharine-free ending, ‘The Leisure Seeker’ finally comes to rest by the side of the cinema aisle as a solid, well-acted vehicle. Whilst it may not have audiences queueing around the block upon its cinema release, it should still definitely a find a stable home on television and streaming services, where its two actors can outshine the script in this gentle paced road trip.