The whereabouts of the Spencers has son Will curious as he comes to meet his parents and can’t find John and Ella anywhere around their house. But when he discovers their old Winnebago gone from its longtime parking spot, well, first he gets furious, and them somewhat worried.
And thus we are off with The Leisure Seeker, the 1-hour, 50-minute senior adventure directed by Pablo Virzi from a screenplay by Stephen Amidon adapted from Michael Zadoorian’s 2009 novel of the same name.
It’s a case of can’t live with your quirks and worse, but definitely can’t live without you for this longtime married couple.
He’s a retired teacher with a love for Hemingway, the language and a good burger. She’s a devoted mother to their two kids and the idea that they deserve one last trip south in the big, old cruiser they christened The Leisure Seeker.
John, you see, is losing his memory, more than little-by-little these days. Ella is ill, too, we’re allowed to believe increasingly by various clues as the story unwinds and then hit with the big sledgehammer of truth toward the finish.
Helen Mirren owns the screen as Ella, adopted a southern accent and doing all she can to keep John’s ties to the past in his present. For instance, she puts up a bedsheet at camping stops for nightly slide shows, a This Is Your Life to remind him of names and events.
Donald Sutherland certainly holds his own opposite as the proud man who knows where this path is leading him, grappling with the light bulb of memory that shines brightly some moments, but leaves him distressingly in the dark in others.
Will blusters at them to return home over the phone any moment he can. Daughter Jane attempts to display more empathy and passion for their need for this final independent streak.
Their adventures are a little funny, a lot sad and somewhat illuminating on the state of love, understanding and commitment.
Central New Yorkers can screen The Leisure Seeker free as part of the Liverpool Public Library’s Best Sellers to Blockbusters series, at 6 p.m. Monday, May 13. The LPL offsite event is at Baldwinsville Public Library.