Director- Bill Condon
Plot – The story is actually set in 1947, following a long-retired Holmes living in a Sussex village with his housekeeper and rising detective son. But then he finds himself haunted by an unsolved 50-year old case. Holmes memory isn’t what it used to be, so he only remembers fragments of the case: a confrontation with an angry husband, a secret bond with his beautiful but unstable wife
Review- Sherlock Holmes is the most portrayed fictional human character in history and sometimes you do have to wonder if people will ever tire of him. It’s not likely to happen soon, but with two TV shows (Sherlock and Elementary) and various films coming out, at what point do we reach Sherlock saturation?
But that is an article for another time, this article is about Mr. Holmes, starring Sir Ian McKellen as the titular detective who has retired to the South Downs to keep bees. His memory is not what it was and he alternates between being active and engaging and as someone who suffers from senility. McKellen in utterly convincing in the role and even manages to pull of playing him in a series of flashbacks featuring his last case (and in an utterly bizarre sub-plot) a trip to Japan.
I loved the look and feel of this film. It is beautifully shot, with a nice subtle soundtrack, special credit must go to Laura Linney as Holmes housekeeper who is trying to look after not only Holmes but her 10 year old son Roger (played by Milo Parker with a touch too much attitude for my liking.)
But I didn’t see why Sherlock Holmes was in this story. Let me explain, I am aware that this is based on the book A Slight Trick of The Mind by Mitch Cullin but in this film the investigation, and his trip to Japan felt to me like they could have been removed and the narrative would not have suffered.
The issue is that Laura Linney is far too good in her role.
She plays someone who is trying to be a good mother after losing her husband in the war and is trying to raise their son, she is offered a chance to work elsewhere, and aware that Holmes won’t live forever but is something of a father figure to Roger she has to decide what to do. And that to me, was far more interesting than the main plot of Holmes trying to remember a case that he solved 35 years ago but still nags him if only he could remember why.
There were good moments here, but the issue with Holmes is that we’ve seen his tricks countless times and their starting to wear a little thin for me. I would have been far more interested if the film has focused on Linneys character and her arc as Holmes doesn’t change or develop in any meaningful way.
The flashbacks themselves are good, but could have been cut out without the film loosing much of its power.
Also, this film is very sedate, there were some children in my screening that were getting very restless. Please be aware of this.
All in all, its a good looking film with some really good performances, I just wish the narrative could have been a bit more focused.
Rating- If Nothing Else