Mr. Holmes (2015)

  • Knowing as little about the world of Sherlock Holmes as I do, I feel like my opinions on this film and my authority to judge it are highly questionable – but hey, I watched it, so let me jot down a few things.
  • Ian McKellen was predictably excellent in the titular role. To play someone who is at times mentally sharp & who completely has his wits about him, but at other times is somewhat mentally lost and struggling to remember key details of his life is by no means an easy task. Portraying such a person becomes even more of a challenge when the degree of mental clarity varies not in large chunks of flashbacks – distinctly different times in the character’s life – but in single scenes set in the present. In other words – rather than having all of Mr. Holmes’s moments of clearheadedness appear in flashbacks, and having all of the scenes set in the present depict him in a dementia-affected state, the story has him experiencing both extremes, all in the span of a single, present scene. McKellen handles this beautifully.
  • Laura Linney (as Holmes’s maid Mrs. Munro) was just okay. Her accent was not as strong as I would’ve liked, and there seemed to be something missing in her performance that disallowed it from being truly great. Of course, the part was not a huge one – but I feel like it could have resonated a bit more than it did. I think perhaps Laura Linney may have been miscast in this role. Usually that’s the conclusion to be made when a performance lacks that little something, but there’s not anything distinctly wrong with the actor/actress’s performance. Maybe someone else could’ve come in and done it slightly differently – and that’d be enough to make the character click. Who knows!
  • The kid (Roger, played by Milo Parker) was pretty good. I liked him.
  • So…for the whole movie, Holmes is trying to remember how his “final case” played out. He saw a movie version of the story Watson wrote based on the case, but doesn’t think that the story was resolved in the same way in real life – so he goes on a quest to remember. We get bits & pieces of the case, as they come back to him (it involves a woman’s husband asking Holmes to investigate his wife, who has become entranced by an instrument called a glass harmonica, which she enjoys playing because it helps her grieve the two children she lost in miscarriages).
  • When we finally have the full story – it is a little bit of a letdown. Not in the sense that it’s different than the fictionalized Watson account of the case…but that it kind of makes you go, “Oh, that’s it?” The alternate story is not a very interesting story, but you get the feeling that the writers (of both the novel on which this film was based & of the screenplay itself) believe it is. The facts of the case are not exciting, nor are the emotional revelations that Holmes experiences in relation to it. I sure wish they had been.
  • I’m afraid I’m making this sound like an awful movie. It’s really not! It’s a very decent movie that’s shot well, & acted well, and which features wonderful sets & costumes. It’s the story itself that’s lacking, I think. It’s just…not that impressive, unfortunately.

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