Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Mr. Holmes 
CNS/USCCB () review
ChiTrib/Minn Star-Trib (C. Covert) review
RogerEbert.com (S. Wloszczyna) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review
EyeForFilm.co.uk (A.K. Tikte) review
Sight & Sound (K. Newman) review
Mr. Holmes  (directed by Bill Condon, screenplay by Jeffrey Hatcher, characters by Arthur Conan Doyle [Wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb] based on the novel "A slight Trick of Mind"  [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Mitch Cullin [GR] [Amzn] [IMDb]) is a lovely if somewhat slow err "gently moving" and certainly more classical "Downton Abbey-esque" revisit to the character of Sherlock Holmes [IMDb] (played as a finally retiring, increasingly frail/forgetful _ninety three_ year old by Ian McKellen).
The film serves as an obvious correction to several attempts in recent years to "reboot" / "comtemporarize" the previously beloved if _perhaps_ becoming "somewhat dated" character (one thinks of the recent "back in the day" but frenetic / highly stylized films starring Robert Downey, Jr as Sherlock Holmes, as well as the TV series Elementary [2012-] [IMDb] set in New York City of today and featuring a female "Joan Watson" played by Lucy Liu). Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed both the RDJr films and that of the Lucy Liu starring series that I've watched. But I've _also_ enjoyed this more leisurely paced story that, in its own way, _also_ "moves the ball" with regards to the character (it's based on a novel that was first written/published in 2005): For this is a story about a once robust / beloved character truly entering into his "sunset years." It could well be a story about a beloved uncle or grandparent.
And three stories actually play-out in the course of the film:
The first involved simply the aging Sherlock Holmes leaving post-WW II London for the countryside to perhaps spend the last chapter of his life in a lovely, smallish country home in Sussex, (south east of London), with a somewhat bitter or perhaps still somewhat disoriented, widowed-by-the-war housekeeper Mrs Monro (played by Laura Linney) and her energetic 10 y.o. son Roger (played by Milo Parker) who didn't remember much of his dad. There the 93 y.o. Holmes spent his time "bee keeping" and (trying to do some) writing about his final case, many years back (in pre-War days), which he didn't believe Dr. Watson, long-ago married and having drifted away, didn't capture correctly. But at 93, Holmes' memory was fading...
Then the second story playing-out was that of the said "last case" involving a young English charter account or barrister named Thomas Kelmot (played in the film by Patrick Kennedy) concerned that his wife Ann (played by Hattie Morahan), depressed after two miscarriages, may be either having an affair or otherwise drifting away from him. And while the aging Holmes was certain that the case did not end in the way that Watson had written it up (and a subsequent film had dramatised it), he couldn't really remember how it did, in fact, play-out.
Finally there was a third story, about Holmes' recent post-WW II trip to Japan to visit Tamiki Umazaki (played by Hiroyuki Sanada) a Japanese fan of his with whom he had struck-up a correspondence as soon as the End of the War had made it possible again. Yet _both_ Holmes and Umazaki had their motives for striking-up the correspondence that led to Holmes' visit: Holmes had read that there was a Japanese plant, the nectar of which (nectar collected by bees ...) helped treat increasing "forgetfulness" with age. Yet his raised as an anglophile Japanese host had his own (poignant) motivation for inviting Holmes to his country once the war ended.
The stories play-out in a nice, gentle, and (as perhaps expected) _at times_ intertwining way. Those bees play more or less obviously a roll in all three of them. And at the end of the film, I do believe that most traditional Sherlock Holmes / Downton Abbey-esque fans will probably leave satisfied.
It's a gentle tale ... even if one is wondering throughout, who's "gonna get stung" and how ... So good job folks, good gentle job ;-)
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