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Paolo Virzi
Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland
Writing Credits:
Paolo Virzi, Stephen Amidon, Francesca Archibugi, Francesco Piccolo

A runaway couple go on an unforgettable journey in the faithful old RV they call The Leisure Seeker.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1/16X9
English Dolby 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 112 min.
Price: $25.99
Release Date: 7/10/2018

• “In Conversation” Panel
• “Making of The Leisure Seeker” Featurette
• Previews & Trailer


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The Leisure Seeker (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 16, 2018)

For a comedy-drama that focuses on the AARP crowd, we go to 2018’s The Leisure Seeker. Long-married couple John (Donald Sutherland) and Ella (Helen Mirren) find their relationship strained because he suffers from Alzheimer’s and she from cancer.

Rather than go gently into that long good night, they decide to whoop it up one last time. In an ancient RV they named the “Leisure Seeker”, they take a final road trip from Boston down to Key West so they can visit Ernest Hemingway’s home.

As depicted in the film’s trailer, one seems likely to encounter two strains of content via Seeker. Much of the movie appears destined to focus on broad sentiment, as a story that features not one but two leads with terminal illnesses appears unable to avoid such emotional material.

In addition, one should probably bank on plenty of wacky comedy, most of it connected to incongruous situations that relate to the age of the main characters. A road trip tale with two elderly participants probably can’t resist plenty of old folks nuttiness.

As it happens, virtually all of the “crazy old coots” footage shows up in the trailer, so the end result offers less of that content that anticipated. This leaves us with almost two hours of drama, and drama that emphasizes the mawkish.

Though both leads suffer from illnesses, John’s Alzheimer’s dominates, probably because memory loss more easily translates to the movie screen. A woman with cancer can show physical sickness but that doesn’t lend itself toward anything especially “cinematic”, unlike John’s memory woes.

Seeker works best as a depiction of the difficulties related to Alzheimer’s. As expected, it plays some of this for laughs – movies seem unable to avoid that trend – but it also gives us enough of Ella’s view to understand how awful the disease is both for the subject as well as loved ones.

I also appreciate the leads. Though neither excels – and Mirren’s Southern accent doesn’t hold up especially well – both boast enough talent and charm that they can carry the film to a degree.

But only to a certain point, as the movie’s myriad flaws harpoon it. In addition to the film’s inconsistent mix of comedy and drama, it suffers from a basic lack of narrative purpose.

Granted, Seeker doesn’t attempt a plot-heavy tale, as it focuses more on characters and their emotional path. Even so, the end result ambles and bumbles along so randomly that it just doesn’t go anywhere.

If you invest in the characters, you seem likely to enjoy it more. I never really dug into them, though, mainly because the movie leaves them largely undeveloped. Seeker hopes we’ll attach to them because of the actors’ charm and the basic premise but those facets aren’t enough to make this a compelling trek.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus C

The Leisure Seeker appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Even within the parameters of SD-DVD, this seemed like a pretty mediocre presentation.

Sharpness was adequate at best. Closeups showed decent delineation, whereas wider shots appeared fairly soft and tentative.

Jagged edges and shimmering were only a minor problem, and I saw no edge haloes or print flaws.

Colors seemed low-key, with an emphasis on teal. These choices felt less than exciting, but the DVD represented them in a passable manner.

Blacks provided reasonable depth, while shadows appeared fairly smooth. Ultimately, the image felt decent but no better than that.

I also felt unimpressed with the bland Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Seeker, as it failed to make much of an impression. The soundfield gave us mild ambience at most, without much use of the various channels.

This meant it focused on the front speakers and didn’t bring us much in terms of scope. Even for an introspective character film, the soundscape seemed awfully flat and subdued.

Audio quality was fine. Speech came across as natural and concise, and effects demonstrated passable delineation. They had little to do but they seemed acceptable.

Music appeared adequate, as the score and songs came across with decent range. Everything here felt ordinary, so the audio added little to the presentation.

Only a couple of extras appear here, and we start with In Conversation with Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland. This reel runs 26 minutes, 22 seconds and features a panel that presents the two lead actors.

Mirren and Sutherland discuss aspects of their careers and their work on the film. This never becomes a terribly informative chat, but it’s fun to see the actors together and they offer enough substance to turn this into a likable chat.

Making of The Leisure Seeker goes for 11 minutes, 14 seconds and includes comments from Mirren, Sutherland, director Paolo Virzi, and actors Christian McKay, Jane Moloney, Ahmed Lucan, and David Silverman.

“Making” looks at story/characters, cast and performances and the use of an Italian film crew. We don’t get a ton of good details from the participants but the shots from the set add value.

The disc opens with ads for Foxtrot, A Fantastic Woman, Call Me By Your Name, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Happy Endand The Rider. We also get the trailer for Seeker.

As much as I admire its lead actors, I can’t find much to enjoy in The Leisure Seeker. A rambling, forgettable collection of mawkish vignettes and little more, the movie doesn’t find a groove. The DVD offers mediocre picture and audio along with some decent supplements. The Seeker takes us on a road to nowhere.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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