Over the weekend I saw the new movie, Mr. Holmes which stars Ian McKellan. The general jist of the movie is that a 93 year old Sherlock Holmes is living in his secluded country home and suffering with diminished mental faculities and a deep sense of confusion and guilt over his last case. In an attempt to both recover his memories and resolve the issues of his final case as a detective he resorts to writing it down. The only problem is that his memory has become so weak that he has to write down the name of his house keeper’s son and other folks, on his shirt cuff in order to remember their names.
This all seems rather bleak, and Ian does a brilliant job portraying Holmes as a grumpy old man, but when he develops a friendship with Roger, the son of the house keeper, it lightens the mood and shows another side of Sherlock. The relationship between them is well developed and the chemistry is great. Roger, who lost his father in WW II, is a curious and intelligent boy that soon provides the spark to rekindle Sherlock’s memory and resolving the issue of his last case. There are some funny scenes between Sherlock and Roger, ones that play more on wit rather then slap stick comedy. The comedic timing between Roger and Sherlock is quite brilliant and feels natural rather then a scripted scene. The house keeper, who is Roger’s mother, is well acted. She comes across as a woman who wants the best for her son, and has regrets about her husband’s death for Roger’s sake. At times seems out of her comfort zone with Roger and Sherlock busy with the bees and the mystery but it’s clear that she cares about them both. Roger also takes a great interest in Holme’s bee hives and their mysterious decline in population. Although the bees seem to be a subplot, they end up having a huge impact on the characters toward the end of the movie.
Mr. Holmes does a great job at developing its characters and the relationships that they have with one another. I came to have a good understanding of each one and actually caring about them, which you don’t always get in a story. I also liked the fact that it showed another side to Sherlock, a much more human one then that perceptive and analytical detective. It showed a man that had deep regrets that weighed heavy on his heart. It also showed that he cared/loved others despite his reputation for being ‘cold’. In the end it was a very good story about the power of friendship and not being alone in the world.
Mr. Holmes is a entertaining and well written movie about fascinating characters and their relationships. It may not have all the special effects or raunchy one liners of other summer blockbusters but it is well worth watching. It has characters that I came to care about, and a couple mysteries that were well balanced and resolved in a satisfying manner.