“Take this diary.
Each day you don’t recall a name or place, make a mark on the page for that day’s date.
What if I forget to make the mark?”
Once again a movie about the world famous British detective. Apparently they’ve made already nearly 200 films about this fictitious figure (only Dracula reaches this number). The latest Sherlock films are those with Robert Downey Jr. starring in it. But don’t expect mysterious developments, gunfights or wild chases. They could have called it “Mr. McKellen”, because this brilliant actor plays the very old Holmes with enormous panache and class. The film doesn’t show Sherlock Holmes as a mythical figure but seeks to create a realistic portrait of the man. A surly ex-detective struck by amnesia who spends his last days on a farm in the countryside. Frustrated because he wasn’t able to solve the last case he was working on.
“Mr. Holmes “is more a biographical film than an exciting thriller, starring a legendary figure who suffers from old age ailments. A man who decides to stop being a detective at the time his phenomenal memory lets him down and who tries to find a remedy against further decay. A realistic portrait of the figure Sherlock Holmes who dissociates himself from the fictional character as described in the literature. He even says that the typical attributes such as the “deerstalker” and his pipe are grotesque fabrications devised by Dr Watson.
The main part is about his passion for bees and the relationship he has with Roger (Milo Parker), the curious son of the housekeeper Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney). Slowly we see the surly, sober Sherlock changing. A man who never showed any true emotions in his life and approached everything in a logical and reasoned way. And slowly you see him turning into a sensitive and humane person. Eventually there are three different storylines that are interwoven with each other in an ingenious way. On the one hand we have the last unsolved case he’s trying to immortalize with the help of Roger. On the other hand, there is a Japanese chapter about the quest for a medicinal herb. And all this is embraced by the story in the present time with the mythical Sherlock slowly fading away.
The film is a collage of excerpts from these three storylines. Needless to say McKellen, better known as Gandalf from “The Lord of the Rings”, delivers a masterful performance. It’s wonderful to see how he sets the 93-year-old Sherlock opposite to the thirty years younger detective. A legend whose memories slowly fade compared to a spry, intelligent man who observes and interprets everything in detail. Sublime and majestic. Also, one should not hesitate to heap praise on young Milo Parker. He seems very natural and the interplay with McKellen is at times really enjoyable. Sadly enough Laura Linney had little scope to shine. However, the rare moments you can admire her, were sufficient enough to show she’s a brilliant actress.
Although the film is situated in an era which is characterized by a quieter life without hectic situations, the overall pace can seem rather enervating. The pace is similar to the rhythm of life of the elderly Sherlock: lethargic, timid and calculated. In addition, the sets of Victorian England are pleasing to the eye. As well as the beautiful scenery of the English coast. But the biggest achievement was that in the end I was firmly convinced that Sherlock wasn’t a fictional character sprong from someone’s imagination. Let me quote Sherlock as a conclusion : “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains,however improbable, must be the truth?”.