Mr Holmes: Film Review
Posted on June 29, 2015
In this film adaptation of Mitch Cullin’s novel A Slight Trick Of The Mind, a ninety-three year old Sherlock Holmes struggles to remember the details of his final investigation.
This last case, concerning a grieving wife and a mysterious musical instrument, seems tame in comparison with BBC’s Sherlock, wrapping up with rapid precision a little too neatly. But then, Mr Holmes is less concerned with thrilling its audience than it is with giving us a reflective character study loaded with meaty subtext.
Holmes (Ian McKellan) exists in a familiar world: one where he’s celebrated as much for his detective work as he is for deerstalkers and pipes. He’s understandably aggravated by Watson’s memoirs, which perpetuate these myths, but is similarly plagued by his own feelings of regret and loneliness. This isn’t just fan-friendly self-referencing. Mr Holmes’ later-life vantage point scrutinises both celebrity and old age.
In the hands of screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher (The Duchess), the superior, one-of-a-kind detective faces the everyday problems of growing old. Holmes’ worsening dementia is the catalyst for the film’s investigative thread but, in the context of McKellan’s keen and unsettling performance, quickly overshadows it. There are still traces of the former detective, who scientifically explores home remedies and – in a subplot that risks turning Mr Holmes into saccharine Sunday afternoon fare – attempts to solve the mystery of a declining bee population. In doing so, Mr Holmes funnels celebrity and old-age into a shrewd reflection on identity, more fascinating in light of its enigmatic, commercial hero.
VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ ★ 4/5
Running time: 104 minutes
UK release date: 19 June 2015
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