MR HOLMES – REVIEW – Gandalf retires to the English countryside to play an older Benedict Cumberbatch where his amazing skills of deduction takes him 90 minutes to find a wasp.
Sherlock Holmes is of course one of those iconic roles that never seem to go away. From books, to illustrations to the cinema to TV and back again, the appeal of the illustrious inhabitant of Baker Street is apparently timeless, an Edwardian Superhero and crime fighter, whose superpower is brainy-ness. Ian McKellan stars as them aging sleuth in Bill Condon’s lovingly crafted film adapted from Mitch Cullin’s novel. By the way such is the popularity of Holmes that there is another novel based on the aging detective by Michael Chabon called The Final Solution which is well worth a read. Holmes is living in the countryside with his housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her young son, Roger (Milo Parker). He has recently returned from Japan when he sought a plant, the prickly ash, which has herbal properties that help slow the progress of the dementia from which Holmes suffers. His faltering memory is aided by Roger as he tries to piece together his last case so that he can finally face the end with something like equanimity. And herein lies the problem of the film. In a novel such an internal quest can be rendered effectively, showing the drama of the flailing mind, but on screen we have a bunch of flashbacks which don’t actually have any particular consequence to the action of the present. Its thematic similarities to McKellan and Condon’s earlier collaboration Gods and Monsters also means that anyone familiar with the earlier film will see this as a bit of a retread. Ian McKellan is wonderful of course, but one can’t help but wish that he had been placed in a story of a little more consequence. Like Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution for instance.