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Mr Holmes - Film Review

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by Jenny Esots (subscribe)
A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Published July 24th 2015
The case of reconnecting with the past
Mr Holmes is a refined portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in his most senior years. Sherlock Holmes is a much loved character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and one the world's most well known detectives. In this version Mr Holmes is over ninety and Watson has long since disappeared. Set in the late 1940s, Mr. Holmes is directed by Bill Condon who directed Ian McKellen in Gods and Monsters.

Mr Holmes played by Ian McKellen
Mr Holmes played by Ian McKellen

The film is based on the 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind written by Mitch Cullin. The film stars Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes, Laura Linney as housekeeper Mrs. Munro and Milo Parker as her son Roger. The times are mainly set during his retirement but flashback to his final case decades earlier. The film follows a 93-year-old Holmes who is desperately seeking remedies from as far away as Japan for his deteriorating mind.

Mr Holmes played by Ian McKellen
Mr Holmes played by Ian McKellen

This is quite a brooding Sherlock Holmes. He is getting to his last days, as evidenced by visits from his doctor. Holmes is struggling to hold on to his faculties and memories old and new are fading in and out. Holmes has trouble remembering those around him, but is also searching for clues into what led him into exile. There is a lot of self-reflection about his life. In the end it is the human connections that heal.

This is definitely not a fast paced narrative. The unresolved case he seeks to revisit is somehow unformed and does not draw the viewer in. As this is a quality British production the English countryside is at its finest. Evocative countryside panoramas and pretty cottage gardens are on view. The steam trains and old stations, book shops and little laneways are like stepping back in time.

Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes and Milo Parker as her son Roger.
Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes and Milo Parker as her son Roger.

Ian McKellen is outstanding in his portrayal of a distinguished man with a crumbling mind. Similar in many ways to Meryl Streep's portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, dementia can rob people of their personality and the struggle to hang on to this is very realistically shown.

Sherlock Holmes played by Ian McKellen
Sherlock Holmes played by Ian McKellen

This is a tour de force of acting, filmmaking and measured subtlety. Not unlike the story of another recent film with Mr in its title, Mr Turner. These portrayals are given time to unfold their flawed characters. A rare commodity in the fast paced blockbuster film market.

The glass harmonica - wikimedia commons
The glass harmonica - wikimedia commons

Mr Holmes features a strange instrument called the glass harmonica. A weird eerie sound is produced. The player uses their hands coated in water to glide over the glass. The film plot has a mother communicating with her dead children via the glass harmonica. Has anyone ever seen one of these played? The instrument is a relic of the past, a strange part of history that seems lost.

Revisiting lost history is what Mr Holmes is all about. There are many references to some of Sherlock Holmes signature trademarks, as in his deer stalker hat, pipe and famous address, but it is the charm of Sherlock Holmes that lives on in earnest here. A journey back in time worth taking.
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reviews from friends do not enthuse me to see this film, even tho. Sir Ian carries his part well.
by fluffynut (score: 2|910) 1547 days ago
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