Friday, May 27, 2016

Movie Review: Mr. Holmes (2015)

Mr. Holmes (2015) directed by Bill Condon

An elderly Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) returns from a trip to Japan. His English residence is a countryside home with a housekeeper and her son. Holmes wants to write the story of his last case, something that Watson romanticized a bit too much (as he did for most cases they had). The problem is Holmes's memory is failing him. He can only recall small bits of the story which he slowly writes out. The housekeeper's son has discovered the uncompleted manuscript and becomes fascinated with Holmes. Holmes takes the boy under his wing and teaches him a bit about beekeeping while slowly unraveling the story. The mother is not too excited about it for her own reasons. The two stories (Holmes living with the housekeeper and her son; his last case) move forward at a very leisurely pace.

McKellen gives a great performance as Holmes debilitated by old age. His struggles with remembering the past and with living in the present are touching and realistic. Toward the end of the movie, much of that challenging struggle has slipped away from Holmes in a subtle and believable way. The end of the film turns a bit formulaic as Holmes slips back into his old, younger ways. The main flaw in the film is the sub-plot with the Japanese man which has too many ambiguities to be satisfying. The incongruities worked early on in the film, assuming Holmes's mixed up mental state. The resolution by the end should have been clearer.

Overall, the film is an interesting look at what Holmes might be like as an old man.

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