Hollywood doesn’t seem interested in telling love stories about people over 65 anymore. Long gone are the days of Cocoon and On Golden Pond. So when a sunset romance does come along, you can’t help but root for it. Which is why it gives me no joy to report that The Leisure Seeker is pretty disappointing.
Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland play Ella and John Spencer — a devoted couple who hit the road in their beloved 1975 Winnebago Indian for one last hurrah, without telling their grown children (Christian McKay and Janel Maloney, both underdeveloped). Ella is a saucy Southern belle, and John is a retired English professor suffering from dementia. But in his brief flashes of lucidity, he’s a charming rascal who talks people’s ears off about Hemingway, whose Key West home is their final destination. When John’s not all there, Ella dotes on him even if you see the toll that his illness (and the loss of their shared lifetime of memories) is taking on her.
Directed by Paolo Virzì (2017’s Like Crazy), The Leisure Seeker uneasily shifts gears between cutesy comedy and three-hankie schmaltz. Mirren and Sutherland do what they can, but they’re overmatched by a script that sputters and stalls, never finding a satisfying groove or the lump-in-your-throat emotional wallop you expect. C+