Mr. Holmes Review
There definitely should have been more of a buzz around Mr Holmes.
What does the great detective do once he retires? Tend to his bees, obviously.Set in Sussex, the now retired Sherlock Holmes has become more at home tending to his bees than he has solving bizarre mysteries. With the aid of his housekeeper Mrs Munro and her son Roger, Holmes is able to enjoy a quiet life in the country, at least he could if he was able to solve one final case. Based on the novel ‘A Slight Trick Of The Mind' by Mitch Cullinand directed by Bill Condon (The Fifth Estate) this version of Sherlock Holmes is nothing like how he has been previously depicted in the media.The deer stalker hat, pipe and cape are all courtesy of his dear partner Watson, who has elaborated and embellished the cases they solved together for the purpose of writing fictional stories. In an effort to correct Watson’s fabricated tales, Holmes has taken it upon himself to write his own version of events, centring around the last case he worked on. Only Holmes is now 93 years old and suffering with the symptoms of dementia and is unable to recollect all the details of this mystery.
The film takes place in 1947 and is set in the beautiful countryside of Sussex where Holmes (Ian McKellen) has retired and now lives with his housekeeper Mrs Munro, played by Laura Linney, and her son Roger. In an effort to delay the effects of dementia Holmes is convinced the answer lies with use of natural remedies such as royal jelly. He even travels to Japan to procure prickly ash which he believes will have far superior benefits to the royal jelly he has been gathering from his apiary.
Encouraged by Roger (Milo Parker), Holmes is set on remembering what happened to the wife of Mr Kelmot, by writing down an accurate account of the details surrounding the case. Roger who has taken quite a shine to Holmes is also eager to learn what happened to Mrs Kelmot and pushes Holmes to finish his final case once again. Along with solving the case, the film focuses on the relationship between Holmes and Roger and their combined love for bees, which feature heavily throughout the film offering a deeper symbolism to the story.
McKellen’s version of Holmes is a far cry from the recent Hollywood and televised depictions we are used to. He is an old cantankerous man who has lost touch with how to interact appropriately with people. McKellen’s performance as Holmes is delivered in a thoroughly believable manner from the pained face he makes as he falls into his arm chair to the way he shuffles along with the help of a walking stick which is never far from hand.
Ian McKellen delivers a superb performance with a completely different take on Sherlock Holmes.
Mrs Munro’s character is acted so naturally that you almost forget that it's Laura Linney on screen. With a completely different accent and 1940s hair do, Linney fully embodies the role of a widowed mother trying to do the best for her son. Milo Parker really makes an impact on screen in only his second acting role as Roger, a young boy in awe of the amazing Holmes and his wealth of knowledge. Lacking a father figure Roger latches on to Holmes enthusiastically and is keen to learn all about bee keeping. There is also a small cameo from Nicholas Rowe (Young Sherlock Holmes) who plays Sherlock Holmes in a film that McKellen’s Holmes goes to see, much to his disapproval at the overly dramatised series of events of the case he is trying to remember.
Through the use of flash backs we are shown Holmes’s journey to Japan and his quest to find the prickly ash with Tamiki Umezaki (Hiroyuki Sanada), a man whom he has been writing to for several months, who has agreed to help him find the medicinal root in the ruined lands of Hiroshima. We are also shown a second set of flash backs to a younger Holmes working on the case that he is so desperately trying to solve. After being paid a visit by Mr Kelmot, who is worried about his wife, we are shown snippets of the young Holmes hot on the trail of Mrs Kelmot. It is in this set of flash backs where we get a glimpse of the Sherlock Holmes we are familiar with, one that uses the methods of deduction in a touching scene with Hattie Morahan who plays Ann Kelmot. The use of these flashbacks gives the film two additional storylines that work together simultaneously but thankfully don’t actually disrupt the overall flow of the film itself.
Mr Holmes is an enjoyable insight into a different side of Sherlock Holmes, one that up until now we haven’t been shown. It’s not an action movie nor is it a mystery thriller, it is however a delightful story about an old man trying to keep hold of his true identity whilst learning to let other people into his life.
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