The Leisure Seeker (2017) ***

April 16th, 2018
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: PAOLO VIRZÌ | Drama Italy / 112’ |cast: Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland

Paolo Virzi’s drama is based on the novel by Michael Zadoorian and stars Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland in a timely tale about an elderly couple looking for one last hurrah on a bittersweet final road trip that gives full throttle to Dylan Thomas’ redolent words: “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Those on their last legs will heartily appreciate the sentiment  embodied and expressed here with feeling by Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren, who share a palpable onscreen chemistry as the amiable pair embarking on their odyssey with the full knowledge that this is likely to be their last together, and is fraught with ups and downs, and memories both good and bad.

The English-language debut of Italian director Paolo Virzì (Like Crazy), The Leisure Seeker sees Ella (Mirren) dying of cancer and John (Sutherland) stumbling on the foothills of Alzheimer’s disease. Neither is remotely interested in quietly fading away in a nursing home or hospice, at least not until they are forced to. So they hit the road in their vintage car on a trip from Boston to Florida with John behind the wheel. This is a tribute to a life lived to the fullest by people who have are cognisant of their plight; it is never maudling or downbeat but admits the inevitable with grace and good humour. The film also offers up an eventful travelogue of this part of America, brimming with insight into how the world has changed as they pass through the cities that have shaped and punctuated their time together. Keats put it rather well when he said: “Live life to the lees” – it’s a quote that acknowledges a life lived pleasurably and with gusto, and this is the feeling that permeates this entertaining tribute, offering a little taster of what’s come for all of us, and a timely reminder to make the most of it while we can. MT




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