Mr Holmes

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Mr Holmes

The year is 1947, and it’s been 30 years since Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) last solved a mystery. Now retired and keeping bees in Suffolk with his grumpy housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her idolising son Roger (an excellent Milo Parker), he’s decided to finally tell the story of his final case in his own words (Watson, who wrote and fictionalised all the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, being long gone). But with his memory fading – despite a recent trip to Japan to secure a memory-restoring herb – will he be able to figure out why he quit all those years ago?
Despite presenting viewers with at least three mysteries, this is a film more concerned with aging and regret than puzzle-solving, and Mr Holmes’ heart resides firmly in Holmes’ growing friendship with Roger rather than his observational skills. Yet ironically the film’s strongest moments are the brief scenes and flashbacks where Holmes displays his full prowess. The plot is designed to refute the Holmsian legend by suggesting that dispassionate observation actually removes you from the emotions that govern human behaviour – which may be true, but it proves to be less entertaining to watch than the Great Detective at the height of his powers. What ties it all together is McKellen’s consistently enthralling performance – he’s charming as Holmes in his prime and achingly human as a old man feeling himself ebb away.