Mr. Holmes is an interesting take on the Sherlock Holmes character (played by the brilliant Ian McKellen). Based on the 2005 novel “A Slight Trick of the Mind” by author Mitch Cullin, the viewer sees Cullin’s interpretation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth as a retired citizen.
What is Mr. Holmes About?
In Mr. Holmes, Sherlock is not just a little old. He’s a stubborn, crotchety soul that tests the patience of his housekeeper, Mrs. Munroe (Laura Linney) and captures the curiosity of her son, Roger (Milo Parker). In 1947, the ninety-three year old Holmes is officially retired to his Sussex estate, but despite his failing facilities, Sherlock reopens his last case involving a certain Mrs. Ann Kelmot. The persnickety Holmes is particularly unsatisfied with Watson’s fictional account that was published soon after Watson married and left Baker Street.
Holmes tries using a jelly made from the prickly ash plant to restore his memory. So desperate is Sherlock to solve this old crime, that he travels to Hiroshima just to get the plant to make the gel.
In flashbacks, we see that while in Japan, Holmes meets with a man, Mr. Umezaki, an admirer of the detective, who had written to Holmes about the benefits of the ash plant. But Mr. Umezaki has ulterior motives and claims that once his anglophile father had met Mr. Holmes, he abandoned the young Umezki and his mother. Holmes claims he never met Umezaki’s father, which leads to another mystery, although this one involves Holmes himself and his clouded memory of prior events.
Sherlock takes an increasing liking to the housekeeper’s inquisitive son, Roger. Soon the young man is taking care of Holmes’ bee hive and other bits of property. With Roger’s help, Holmes also recalls what exactly happened to his last case with Ann Kelmot. But not before Roger almost perishes from an accident on the estate, Holmes suffers several falls and senior moments, and Mrs. Munroe threatens to move herself and Roger out of Sherlock’s life.
What I Thought of Mr. Holmes-A Good Mystery
“Mr. Holmes” is one of those delightfully subtle indie films. I felt a little detachment with the Umezaki storyline, but the Kelmot plot, and certainly, the main crux of the film with Sherlock’s deterioration, was well executed. As Sherlock struggles with Mrs. Kelmot’s situation, you feel his conflicting emotions and pain in trying to solve her mystery.
McKellen plays the crusty Sherlock perfectly. Linney does a fine job as the frustrated mother and house keeper. I was very impressed with Parker’s portrayal of the good natured Roger. He takes on the emotional role with an adult-like sensibility. I recommend it to Sherlock/Doyle fans, those who like a little mystery, or enjoy small films. I give it an 8 out of 10 score.
The budget for Mr. Holmes was $10 million (released as an “indie” film) and grossed $29.4 million at the box office in 2015. Mr. Holmes stars Ian McKellen, Laura Linney and Milo Parker and was directed Bill Condon, produced/released by BBC Films and Miramax. Run time: 104 minutes. Sources and photos courtesy of “Mr. Holmes” the movie.
Victoria L. Szulc is a multi-media Steampunk artist/writer who is working her fourth Steampunk novel, Lafayette to London. You can follow her works at mysteampunkproject.wordpress.com and her author page on Amazon.