How does it feel to have lost all the memories? It is hard to imagine ourselves in the skin of someone suffering a memory loss. I believe it is even harder for those who take care of their loved ones whose memories are taken away by time. Sadly, when the unforgiving disease finds one at an old age, the race against time begins. A race, that is almost impossible to win. The truth is, there is something brutally lovely and serene about elderliness. One cannot fight it, and at times, there is only one desire left- to give up.
Based on the novel by Michael Zadoorian and adapted by the Italian filmmaker Paolo Virzi, “The Leisure Seeker” follows a married couple of two very gentle elders who embark on a road trip. As they leave mile after mile behind, they begin looking forward to what awaits for them ahead of the road – the beautiful memories, stunning views, a bit of argument and the love to one another that is a reminder of why Ella and John Spencer have each other. All of this may sound very sweet and cute but there is a significant challenge Ella will have to face along the road – John’s memory loss. Most of the time he is unable to remember his wife and their two grown-up children.
“The Leisure Seeker” offers an interesting and refreshing view of Ella’s and John’s life. The two of them adore each other and find a way to cope with the hardship they have to face. At nights, Ella projects their old photos. This daily routine helps Jon exercise his memory and remember his family. She gently looks after him, cleaning up his wet sheets in the morning, making a cup of tea or just talking about the past they have shared. Ella does not look so healthy either if one pays close attention to her.
Soon, we find out that she wears a wig and takes strange pills. We are yet to learn the reasons of that. Ella appears as a very strong woman and a supportive wife for whom her love’s life is a priority. John is a very charismatic character – a man who loves Ella dearly, and, in fact, does his best to remember everything he can. Most importantly, no matter how bad his memory gets, he cannot forget Hemmingway.
Their children Jane and Will are quite scared by the sudden disappearance of their parents. They do not welcome their parents’ idea of having a road trip in their Leisure Seeker – an RV that has been around since the 70s. However, Ella has a reason for wanting this trip so badly and why it is so special. Throughout the film, the viewer will come to the realization that love is as strong as it can get if it stands tall against the test of time. Patience and mutual respect are what holds Ella’s and John’s relation so firm. This is a heart-warming, compelling story about the true meaning of care, strong marriage, and solidarity. All of this requires the two people to be equally committed in order for all of this to work in the end.
In conclusion, Virzi, as a director, delivers the heart and the soul to the film, while Dame Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland bring it to life through their flawless performance. As we follow John and Ella during their unforgettable journey in their recreational car, we learn one important lesson on top of everything – aging together with a loved one is the biggest gift every human being can hope for. Although it does come with a side effect, with the right approach it can be turned into an exceptional journey where, at the end of the day, there will be left no regrets about yesterday and tomorrow because today is what matters. And that’s what Ella and Jon help us to understand.