Two Hollywood giants coming together on the big screen is always a treat and that’s what we’re getting this week with the release of The Leisure Seeker. Helen Mirren plays Ella Spencer, a woman dealng with a lot of issues in her advanced years, including her own terminal cancer and the dementia and forgetfulness of her long-time husband John (Donald Sutherland). The two have been together forever and Ella is feeling confined by the reality of their circumstances and so decides to do something about it.
Defying the advice and wishes of both medical professionals and concerned grown adult children, the two set off on one last trip in their RV, nicknamed The Leisure Seeker. Their destination is Ernest Hemingway’s home in Key West, FL, chosen because of John’s love of literature. Along the way, they get into awkward situations and have to deal with problems that come up, but the trip is a final act of stubborn freedom before Ella is gone physically and John is gone mentally.
Mirren and Sutherland are shown in a comfortable, familiar embrace on the first poster as they stand alongside what seems to be an ocean or lake. There’s no copy, just a couple logos of the festivals the movie has screened at. Above the title, the RV that the couple travels in is shown. These look like any two people you’re going to pass at a highway oasis, out for a pleasant weekend trip.
The first trailer starts out by showing the road trip Ella and John are on. At first it seems like they’re just a couple of loving, eccentric people out to enjoy their golden years by hitting the road in their beloved RV. But then we see that John is suffering from memory loss and that their kids aren’t thrilled about the two of them taking off like that. The two get into a couple adventures but John has more and more troubles and they share their own emotional moments that show the long-term intimacy they share, as well as their feistiness.
As with many such films, the primary appeal here is seeing a couple of established Hollywood legends play off each other. The story doesn’t look simple but no less accurate. You have to love the attitude that’s on display in both characters as well, something that Mirren and Sutherland obviously have no problem with selling.
Online and Social
Sony Classics’ official website for the movie isn’t huge or anything. It opens by dropping the trailer onto the page, which you can either watch or close to get onto the main site. There’s a content menu at the top but scrolling down the single-page site will achieve the same result as clicking any of those options.
A “Synopsis” is first up, offering a brief write up of the story. After that, “The Cast” lets you click the name of each player to read a bio and filmography. The same can be done for each of those in “The Filmmakers.” A “Gallery” is followed by a feed of updates containing the film’s hashtag of choice from a wide range of accounts, not just the studio itself.
The movie didn’t warrant its own social profiles. It got limited support from Sony Classics on the brand profiles as it had other priorities in mind.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing here that I’ve seen or have been able to find.
Media and Publicity
There doesn’t appear to have been a huge publicity push for the movie. A few interviews like this one with Mirren and this one with Sutherland are largely representative of the limited campaign, allowing both to promote the film in question while also talking about their long-lived and impressive careers.
The message being sent to the audience – at least those who actually be exposed to the campaign – is that this is a gentle story about two feisty old folks who are deeply in love but who refuse to give in to the calls to tone their lives down. That’s fine, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that there’s something else waiting for those who do find the movie near them. Not that it will necessarily be darker, but that there will be more going on than just some kooky and unexpected adventures.
That being said, the main draw for the film is the presence of its two stars. Mirren and Sutherland are both outstanding actors who have now entered that phase of their careers where they’re playing seriously ill senior citizens. That’s not a knock, it’s just reality. Ultimately it seems the movie may be worth seeing just for their effortless presence.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.