Review / ‘The Leisure Seeker’ (M) *** and a half

WHEN Will Spencer (Christian McKay) and his wife Jane (Janel Moloney) arrive at Will’s parents’ house one morning, they find it deserted and an empty garage that normally housed The Leisure Seeker, Will’s parents’ name for their ancient and now seldom used Winnebago campervan (RV in US parlance). Will and Jane panic.

Prolific Italian director Paolo Virzi’s first fully English-language film, written by Stephen Amidon adapting a novel by Michael Zadoorian, brings together a pair of classy film veterans after a hiatus of 27 years. Donald Sutherland (born 1935) plays retired English teacher John, whose memory often lets him down but who remembers the texts that he once taught and their authors. Helen Mirren (born 1945) plays Ella, whose brain is working just fine. Married for yonks, John and Ella know all that can be known about love and devotion. And they’re driving to Key West in Florida to visit the haunts frequented by one of John’s heroes, Ernest Hemingway.

Watching these two delightful characters undertaking a road movie turns out to be less a travelogue than a suspenser. It’s the sort of comedy that I wish more American movie makers might emulate more often – real people finding humour in credible situations uncloyed by clichés of the genre. John and Ella are in no hurry. And as they go, we begin to feel a growing dread that it’s a bliss that can’t last.

Which it doesn’t. But you could never accuse “The Leisure Seeker” of denying its audience a satisfying conclusion.

At Dendy, Palace Electric and Capitol 6

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