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Mr. Holmes--fine swan song for Sherlock

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  • Mr. Holmes--fine swan song for Sherlock

    Took my kids (9 and 13) to the movies today to get out of the ridiculous heat (I'm sorry, but living in Canada is not supposed to include "tropical heat waves"--grumpy "I can't wait for autumn" rant over ). I did NOT select a loud, frenetic kids' movie (I don't frown on such movies on principle, just felt they could use something else).

    Mr. Holmes is pretty much the opposite of anything Transformers or Terminator like. It is a quiet English film, with Ian McKellen playing a 93 year old Sherlock Holmes, long-retired to a nice bit of seaside near Dover, tending to his apiary. He has a housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her young son (can't recall his name, but he's good in the role) for company. Holmes is struggling with progressive signs of senility, with a half-remembered final case dating back 30 years tugging at the edges of memory. How he copes with his diminished powers, along with the help provided him by the boy (NOT a typically "cute boy genius" of so many American summer movies), is the central focus of the story. Flashbacks to his final case form most of the rest of the film.

    I was proud of my children, especially my 9 year old son, for remaining attentive throughout. It is almost entirely a character study and, unlike most versions of Sherlock Holmes, the unsolved case is rather tangential to the story, existing primarily to provide Holmes with a necessary, albeit quite late, insight into the human condition. Those looking for Ah! Ha! moments or clever plot twists might well be disappointed and, in the hands of less capable actors, the film might have been a wasted effort. However, the calibre of the cast, with McKellen in particular, makes this a film I shall revisit. I found the experience somewhat bittersweet, as McKellen is superb in the role of an aged Holmes confronting what would have to be his worst nightmare (the "sweet", in the sense of no one could exceed his ability to play this role). However (the bitter), in the flashbacks to a Holmes in his late 60s, McKellen gives us a glimpse of how perfect he'd have been, decades ago, as a Sherlock Holmes at the height of his powers--something we shall never see.

    A welcome break from summer blockbusters, yet still summery in weight (the joy lies primarily in the performances, rather than anything especially "momentous" about the story).

  • #2
    I'm looking forward to seeing this when it get released on blu ray. I'm a long time Sherlock Holmes fan (Basil Rathbone being my favourite) and this looks like a nice twist on the original movies


    • #3
      I adore Ian McKellen & am looking forward to seeing this when the BD is released.


      Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
      ....just an "ON" switch, Please!



      • #4
        I watched this a couple of weeks ago and it's excellent!



        • #5
          Good stuff, and I'll check it out on BD. I'm just disappointed with how so many people/movie houses in recent years are trying to re-make, AGAIN, Sherlock Holmes stories in reboot movie, TV shows, BBC, etc. Now being set in modern times, with Watson as an Afghan war vet (BBC), or Lucy Liu as a politically correct female Watson...


          Well, we're safe for now. Thank goodness we're in a bowling alley.
          - Pleasantville


          • #6
            I have to respectfully disagree. I view Sherlock as I view Shakespeare as they pertain to being set in a "period". The setting is incidental to the story and characters. Shakespeare's "history plays" were performed in what was then "modern dress", for the most part. And "present day" Sherlock stories date back to WWII (I have a considerable collection of Rathbone films). As for current productions, I quite enjoy each of them--including Joan Watson. YMMV.

            Even so, Mr. Holmes is not taking Sherlock "out of period" but rather exploring the character at the end of a life begun when Conan Doyle created him and his background. The year is 1947 and Sherlock is 93 years old. You can view the film without fear of violating the proper timeframe.


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