Mr. Holmes

Mr. Holmes photo starrating-2andahalfstars.jpgLet’s set the record straight. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character that was featured in 4 novels and 56 short stories written by Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Mr. Holmes then is a fabrication that envisions the imaginary sleuth as a 93-year-old reflecting back on how a case ended his career 30 years ago. The thing is, the picture is so meticulous, so deliberate and so…uh…well sluggish that you might be inclined to actually believe that this is the carefully studied profile of an authentic man. This is the latter day experiences of an erudite detective where entertaining embellishments are frowned upon in service of reverent restraint.

Writer-director Bill Condon and actor Ian McKellen have worked together before in Gods And Monsters. There the chronicle also centered on a life story. The difference is then it was director James Whale, an actual person. This time we’re detailing a make-believe guy. Mr. Holmes is a handsomely mounted production to be be sure, but one whose sole joy rests in watching a talented thespian act. Sir Ian McKellen, that English Academy Award nominated star of stage and screen, beautifully embodies the role of the agent in this dignified feature. He has a certain presence, but why so serious? This is a fantasy, not a biography where slavish attention to detail is a must. We could have used a little more fun perhaps. Accompanying McKellen are Laura Linney doing her best Emily Watson impression as his housekeeper and young Milo Parker who evokes Freddie Highmore as her son Roger. The allusions to other actors are in no way meant to negate their fine work here.

As a mater of fact, Ian’s McKellen’s scenes with budding star-in-the-making Milo Parker are the highlight of this production. The child has a precocious air that is quite endearing and never grating in the way some youngsters can be encouraged to act. Roger is the inspiration for Holmes to re-remember a mystery from his past: his last assignment. Roger is fascinated by the private investigator and his emotion captures the audience’s interest. Numerous flashbacks recall these details. There’s a lot of jumping around – first to a recent trip to Japan – then 35 years into the past. This for little apparent reason other than to utilize old age makeup on McKellen for the modern setting. Honestly the change isn’t all that dramatic. The real problem is, the case at hand isn’t very interesting. Mr. Holmes has its moments, but if I may quote another English literary character: “Please, sir, I want some more”. There just isn’t enough here to sustain a film. Ultimately it feels more like the studious artifact of bygone history than the fanciful re-imaging of a fictional super sleuth.

07-20-15

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18 Responses to “Mr. Holmes”

  1. smilingldsgirl Says:

    Interesting. I think Holmes is so iconic at this point that I have no problem treating him like a real person. I certainly prefer that to the kinetic Victorian James Bond approach in the Downey versions.

    The problem for me in this movie was not all 3 storylines were equally strong and I kept wanting them to go back to the old case.

    I actually thought Laura Linney was very weak in this. Wooden and sporting an awful accent.

    The ending was also unsatisfying with the boy and the bees. Still McKellen is so strong it is worth seeing and it does look nice. I gave it a C so our scores arent that off

    • Agreed. The movie was a bit disjointed with the 3 time periods and Laura Linney was saddled with a weak supporting part. Not sure what drew her to this role, but it certainly wasn’t the writing.

      So many iconic portrayals over the years of Sherlock Holmes from great actors: Robert Downey Jr, Peter Cushing, Basil Rathbone, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jeremy Brett. Ian McKellan was good, but this production needed more enthusiasm.

  2. smilingldsgirl Says:

    And even Great Mouse Detective over at Disney! I love anything Sherlock Holmes except for the Downey versions which aren’t really Sherlock Holmes movies IMO.

  3. Hmmm…no offense, but I’m honestly not too convinced by your review here. The fact that Ian McKellen and Bill Condon take this so seriously as if it were a biography actually makes me want to see it more. It sounds like a pretty neat approach, in my opinion.

  4. Yeah, I had a feeling this would be the case ever since I saw the trailer. Bummer. I guess I’ll rewatch the BBC’s Sherlock, which I adore.

  5. It took me a while to get into it, but it got better and better. Still, I was hoping for it to really capture me emotionally. 3 stars

  6. A Tale of Two Dans Says:

    It wasn’t dull, it was artistic. Why do you think so many critics liked it? Because it was done in a way that would satisfy film fans and Holmes fans alike. Sherlock Holmes never was written as this super exciting action thriller. And if Holmes was 93 then this portrayal by McKellen would be on point. Don’t get me wrong… I love Downey Jr. and Cumberbatch more than anything and their portrayal’s are perfect for Holmes at a young age, but this movie was unique and it brought something different to the detective genre. The use of the flashbacks were fantastic and Linney’s performance while minuscule was well written.

    • It doesn’t need to be an action thriller to be interesting. My Dinner with Andre is fascinating and it’s just two men talking. I just didn’t find the script here to be particualrly captivating.

      Glad you enjoyed it so much. I figured I would too since I’m a big fan of independent film. Love & Mercy was also released from Roadside Attractions and I loved that.

      • A Tale of Two Dans Says:

        Love & Mercy was fantastic. I totally agree. Like the white version of Straight Outta Compton 😂😂😂

  7. Uh-oh. The word sluggish in the first paragraph made me worried right out of the gate. It’s a shame that the film takes itself so seriously in profiling a fictional character. It sounds like Bill Condon was very focused on the overall production of the film, but that he could have paid more attention to the actual story, which seems to be lacking in substance.

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