2017, Italy/France, 112 min.
To the shock and consternation of their family and friends, Ella and John Spencer (Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland) unexpectedly leave town in the Leisure Seeker, their ancient, long-retired RV. Officially, the trip from Massachusetts to Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West is so John can visit his literary idol’s home before his faculties fade away. As the bickering couple steer through campsites and diners, the depth of their relationship emerges, as does Ella’s reason for taking a seemingly impromptu trip. The movie is a striking, bittersweet ode to living life on your own terms—even if conventional wisdom begs you to stick close to home. Sutherland and Mirren, as you would expect, are outstanding, portraying the sweet highs and combative lows of a couple who can’t stand each other but can’t bear to be apart. Even better, their portrayals serve as an endorsement for marriage and for living the golden years with unabashed dignity. Ella and John’s final chapter takes place on America’s open roads, not in the sterile orderliness of a nursing home, and that gives the movie inspirational heft.