Mr. Holmes (2015)

For my money, Ian McKellen is one of the best actors on the planet. In this movie, he plays himself in three different timelines - one is during the last case he had before he retired, one is the "current" time when he is a man struggling with an aging memory and a body that is fighting against him, and the other is just a few months earlier when he visited Japan for a potential cure for his creeping dementia. Needless to say, he plays all of them spectacularly well.

His housekeeper here at his retirement estate along the coast of Ireland is played by Laura Linney. Now, I don't particularly like the way Laura acts in most movies. She pretty much plays the disapproving motherly figure in everything she's in, and it's pretty annoying. In this movie, that's exactly what is asked of her, and it is written totally to her strengths. So, points for casting.

Milo Parker is Laura's inquisitive son who kind of idolizes Sherlock and wants to help him with his regular tasks including keeping the bees. He's on screen a bit, but he's completely replaceable, and that's a good thing. You don't want a child actor who has to do too much, so make sure the story is really all about Sherlock - and that's what we get.

Sherlock is eager to ensure that he corrects what he sees as a mis-telling of his last case by his friend, John Watson (who does not appear in this movie). So, we follow him through the process of trying to remember and write down the events that resulted in him deciding to hang up his deerstalker and magnifying glass. The set-up for that case is that a man is trying to deal with his grieving wife after she lost her children. It's really kind of unclear why Holmes takes the case in the first place.

The side quest in Japan is a bit more confusing about how it may relate or why we're supposed to care, but they manage to make it relevant enough to keep it interesting. Similarly, the way they juxtapose the old and retired Holmes to the seemingly spry and very lucid Holmes from before his retirement is interesting and really shows off the kind of range you might expect from an "A" list actor.

I act more before my morning pee than you do all day.
The fact is, this movie doesn't have the swift pace of the Sherlock series, most of the books, or even of the Elementary TV show. Instead, this is a slow progression of events in a drama about the unfolding of a life and the unfolding of a brilliant mind. What I found out after watching the movie was that this is actually based on a story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself, A Slight Trick of the Mind. While most of the Sherlock stories have lapsed into the public domain, this one hasn't. So, there was a lawsuit and subsequent settlement after this movie was made.

Acting was brilliant
Story was very good
Pacing was slow
Dialogue was very good
Cinematography was very good

Bottom Line: A very good drama more than a mystery. It could have done with more mystery.



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