Starring: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker
Directed by: Bill Condon (“Kinsey”)
Written by: Jeffrey Hatcher (“The Duchess”)
Nineteenth century writer Author Conan Doyles’ beloved sleuthing character Sherlock Holmes is revisited during his twilight years in “Mr. Holmes,” a sophisticated, sensitive and well-written drama featuring the brilliant detective at his most vulnerable, but still sharp enough to give audiences reason enough to care about what has become of the famous detective long after he’s stopped solving mysteries. Credit to two-time Oscar-nominated actor Ian McKellen (“Gods and Monsters”) for giving Holmes new life in a subtle and endearing manner. It’s a performance that takes an iconic character and humanizes him in a way literary fans will be pleased to see.
Directed by Bill Condon (“Kinsey,” “Dreamgirls”), who disappointed with “The Fifth Estate” after getting the “Twilight Saga” out of his system, “Mr. Holmes” rejoins the aging detective after he returns home from Japan in search of a plant with healing powers. Holmes is frail and his mind isn’t what it used to be. He is living out his quiet retirement secluded in his seaside home with his glum housekeeper Mrs. Munroe (Laura Linney) and her spirited young son Roger (Milo Parker), who takes a liking to Holmes as a grandfather figure. While Holmes is still pretty sharp at deducing, he’s happy enough just tending to his honey bees and spending his final years at rest. When Roger, however, rekindles thoughts of his final unsolved case, Holmes is thrust back into the past to reassess what really occurred during his final investigation, which ultimately led to his retirement.
Emotions come flooding back for Holmes during this time and there no one better to take those years of grief and refine them quite like McKellen. If anything, “Mr. Holmes” is an exploration of self, accepting what has been lost over the years and finding comfort in knowing the world is a better place because of your contribution to it. Robert Downey Jr. might’ve had more flair in his two recent action film adaptations in 2009 and 2011, as does Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC series, but one could argue McKellen’s Holmes is just as stylish. The character lends itself to him in such an intimate way and McKellen pays tribute by being impressive.