Mr. Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is one of history’s most enduring fictional characters.  Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his hero has been re-interpreted many times.  ‘Mr. Holmes’ is the latest to trade on a character seen in all forms of entertainment media.  Providing a fresh slant on the popular defender of rights, ‘Mr. Holmes’ captures the elegant air of mystery first portrayed via Conan Doyle’s pen.


Living in a farmhouse in remote England in 1947, Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) enjoys retirement.  Aged 93 and beginning to lose his memory, he is cared for by housekeeper Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her young son Roger (Milo Parker).  When former partner Watson publishes a book giving a different account of Holmes’ last case, Sherlock endeavours to tell his version of the story.  Attempting to piece together facts before his mind fades, Holmes sharpens his detection skills a final time.


‘Mr Holmes’ is based on Mitch Cullin’s book ‘A Slight Trick of the Mind’ and offers an absorbing psychological mystery.  Wearily coming to terms with the inevitability of his advancing years, Holmes determines to hold onto the last vestiges of his abilities.  Using them to face past grievances and present dilemmas, his relationships with Mrs. Munro and her son increasingly become important.  The central cast provide under-stated performances effectively highlighting the frailty of the situations in which their characters find themselves.


More drama than traditional Sherlock Holmes thriller, ‘Mr. Holmes’ adds an interesting coda to the mystique.  McKellen’s strong rendition makes the character feel more human than the indestructible hero usually seen.  Regret, anger and joy are all etched onto the detective’s face with Bill Condon’s direction teasing out the best of a sedately paced script.  Mystery is there for audiences to uncover but it’s the relationships making ‘Mr. Holmes’ intriguing viewing.


‘Mr. Holmes’ is a successful take on a much loved character.  Holmes’ inquisitive curiosity is still evident with his gift for solving puzzles adding another layer of enjoyment in a generally fine movie.


Rating out of 10:  7

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