140 Character Movie Review – #140RVW
Unsurprisingly brilliant performance by the always dependable Ian McKellen as the worlds first private consulting detective, now retired…
Spoiler-free Movie Review of Mr. Holmes:
Sherlock Holmes may well be the single most popular literary character ever created, appearing not only in the four novels and fifty-six stories of creator Arthur Conan Doyle, but also more spinoff novels, film and television adaptations than can be readily calculated. There seems to be an insatiable appetite for the consulting detective. By now we should have run out of things to say about the fellow, yet he remains an inexhaustible inspiration for so many creators, all who want to put their own stamp on the deerstalker-hatted cocaine addict from Baker Street.
The film Mr. Holmes opens in 1947, as does the novel the film is based on, 2005’s A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin. The story finds the titular character (Ian McKellen) long-retired from his detective practice and living a semi-solitary existence in Sussex, filling his days pursuing his love of beekeeping. Other than his beloved bees, the only constant presence in his life is his housekeeper Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her curious son Roger (Milo Parker).
As the film opens, Holmes is returning from post-war Japan, where he has been searching for the Prickly Ash plant, speculated to be helpful in preventing senility. In a cruel twist of fate, the detective famed for his steel-trap mind is seeing his most powerful gift fade away with the slow degeneration of his memory. The story follows 93-year-old Sherlock as he tries desperately to recall the circumstances of his final case. Holmes has deduced that something momentous must have occurred in 1898, causing him to give up his practice, but the details are locked in his no longer trustworthy mind, and he will need help to (re)solve and close his final case.
Ian McKellen was nominated for an Academy Award for his last collaboration with director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters), and clearly the filmmaker brings something special out of the storied actor. McKellen is simply brilliant, an absolute lock for another Oscar nomination. His work on the picture is really multiple performances, as he embodies both the confident and self-assured younger Holmes in flashbacks, as well as the frustrated and stubborn older man. It is this last part that is the most compelling, as he shows incredible depth progressing through the emotions and challenges of a man coming to terms with his fading faculties and failing body. Holmes the elder is completely at peace with his own mortality, but it is the betrayal of his mind that gnaws at him and that he attempts to conceal. There is still plenty of the proud peacock about the man.
Mr. Holmes, like all stories about the character, works best if you are a Sherlockian. The film works beautifully if you know little more about Holmes than you’ve picked up from other pictures, but there is so much more meat on the bone if you’ve read the stories. The story is masterful in working in little themes from earlier works, leading to a much richer experience than may actually be covered in a 2 hour film. I don’t mean that the story is filled with Easter Eggs (although there’s one or two that are masterful) or makes the too common error of trying to specifically reference other events – it’s not gimmicky like that. It’s more just a feeling, a tone suggesting that the story is a culminating piece in a much longer tale.
Laura Linney, also a Condon vet, doesn’t have a very large role, but it is crucial and she is unsurprisingly wonderful. She is such a gifted actress and makes you feel every bit of her presence.
The star-making turn here, though, belongs to young Milo Parker, who is captivating. Roger is a fascinating character, providing motivation for both the housekeeper and Holmes, for whom he has become an eager protégé. It’s a wonderful story tool but an even more impressive performance. The audience longs to be alongside Roger as the great detective reveals both the secrets of the apiary and the science of deduction.
Mr. Holmes is an absolute delight, from the period costumes and production design, to the score from Carter Burwell, and the gorgeous cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler. I haven’t even touched upon the truly unique visuals from post-WWII Japan to the Cliffs of Dover. Nor the lovely supporting performances of Hiroyuki Sanada and Hattie Morahan. Discover them for yourself – go see Mr. Holmes…
The Representation Test Score: C (6 pts)
|Main Cast||Ian McKellen Sherlock Holmes
Laura Linney Mrs. Munro
Hiroyuki Sanada Tamiki Umezaki
Hattie Morahan Ann Kelmot
|Release Date||Fri 17 Jul 2015 UTC|
|Genres||Crime, Drama, Mystery|
|Plot||An aged, retired Sherlock Holmes looks back on his life, and grapples with an unsolved case involving a beautiful woman.|
|Tagline||The man behind the myth|
|Writers||Mitch Cullin (original story) and, Mitch Cullin (novel) …|