Mr. Holmes

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I’m writing my review as I hear all the news stories about another Mr. Holmes – the guy who shot up the movie theatre at a showing of Batman. That story and the career of Ian McKellen, had me thinking about all these comic book type of films. The younger generation is probably more familiar with McKellen’s work from The Hobbit and X-Men films. I remember loving his work with director Bill Condon in Gods and Monsters.

McKellen got an Oscar nomination for that, Condon won the award (adapted screenplay). I’d like to see him get one for this; although it would’ve been nice if Condon and screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher had a few more meetings and rewrites on this picture. It’s like they decided to take the Sherlock Holmes that Robert Downey, Jr. made for this generation, and turn him into a beekeeper like Peter Fonda played in Ulee’s Gold (a much better film). And similar to Ulee’s Gold, both are deliberately paced. That won’t work for many, especially when you’re dealing with the solving of a crime.

Often times in period pieces, I look at all the old cars and wonder if the filmmakers called Jay Leno. All of these movies also seem to have a steam powered train, and I wonder who they call to get those, and why they’re always used.

The story has Holmes suffering early dementia, and regretting a mystery he couldn’t resolve. It also resulted in a death.

In a nice change of pace, at least this isn’t one of those movies where the old guy is unbearable grouchy. He has an interesting relationship with his housekeeper (the always underrated Laura Linney). She has an intelligent young son (Milo Parker), who expresses both interest in his beekeeping hobby as well as one of his unfinished stories.

The movie was based on the novel A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin and many will assume this is really how Holmes lived the later years of his life.

It was an interesting concept to have Holmes working on an old case he couldn’t solve, as well as a trip to Japan he made almost 40 years earlier.

The subtle touches of the film were nice as well. Holmes obviously thinks less of a woman who is a housekeeper, but relishes the relationship with her intelligent child. They don’t go over the top with the bonding.

The film had a nice humanity about it, and I was never bored. Yet I think many will find this a dull affair, as it often lacks focus.

The whole thing was so elementary, my dear readers.

It gets 2 ½ out of 5 stars.

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