Mr. Holmes is a Rewarding Journey
This is a movie I’ve been interested in seeing ever since I first heard about it. The basic premise is an older Sherlock Holmes (93 years old to be exact) is living as a bit of a recluse as his memory fades. Before that happens Mr. Holmes wants to be able to recall his final case and why it haunts him so. With Sherlock Holmes I of course know the basics like anyone living from the past century to now, but I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on any level; I’ve only read a few of the stories.
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 5
The director is Bill Condon, a talented director of smaller, more intimate films like “Of Gods And Monsters” which I also liked. I enjoyed it so much I even considered watching one of his newer films some vampire film… Twilight something… you may have heard about it. Teenage girls seem to like it. However “Mr. Holmes” allows Condon to return more to his roots even reuniting with “Of Gods And Monsters” star, Sir Ian McKellen.
Speaking of which, the acting from all the actors is great. Sir Ian McKellen is fantastic, possibly the best version of Sherlock Holmes (take that with a grain of salt as I have only watched a couple of Sherlock Holmes films). It’s hard to say what exactly what makes him so good or makes me want to consider him to be the best that I’ve seen. It honestly makes you wish that he could have played Sherlock Holmes earlier in his career as he shows here that he would have been great. It’s interesting how we talk about some actors having a physical presence so you can believe they’re doing the fighting even if it’s actually stunt men doing most of the work. Then there are other actors who so simply don’t have that. Something else not everyone has is the ability to play smart. I don’t know how intelligent Sir Ian McKellen is but I would imagine not quite to Sherlock Holmes level. But McKellen can make me believe he is that smart, something I think is very important in a Sherlock Holmes. I will not be surprised if he gets an Oscar nomination this year.
Laura Linney is also great in here, you kind of expect that with the fact she is one of our greatest living actresses. The young actor, Milo Parker is fine. I wouldn’t say he’s great but nothing terrible. He performs the script in a perfectly serviceable way. Hiroyuki Sanada (who I’ve been seeing more and more of in films and I think I’m becoming a fan) is also really good in a very small but very important role that he completely sells.
Visually this is a very pretty film not just in the cinematography sense but the locations were beautiful. Any of the places it showed that I hadn’t seen before I would think to myself “I’d love to see that in real life.” Even just the architecture of the buildings they chose to film in had that effect. The score by Carter Burwell (one of our best current film composers) is good. It’s nothing too amazing and nothing that’ll stick in your head but the music was very good in the moment of the movie. The make-up in this film is spectacular! This has got to be some of the best old age make-up since Max von Sydow in “The Exorcist.” Again don’t be surprised when the Oscar nominations come out and this film doesn’t just have a couple. Basically the exact opposite of the old-age make-up from “Prometheus” (that is my personal fake baby from “American Sniper”)
What I actually think is the best part of the film is the story. First of all it’s a good premise but beyond that the film is juggling three different stories from three different points in time. That is what fascinated me the most, there were a number of times I was questioning the movie and going, “Why are we focusing on this?” “This subplot should have been cut out,” but as the film plays on you realize it all ties in together. However at first the film doesn’t hold your hand, it’s trusting you to trust the movie that it will be explained and it will all make sense. It’s a film that rewards your patience and at the end of the film you feel better having gone through it. Things you thought were digressions all contribute and all were important either in the story or in just exploring the idea of old Sherlock Holmes.
Entertainment Value – 4
Some other things about the film I liked was the film’s way of looking at Sherlock Holmes. As I understand the character he’s supposed to be a very detached person because of how brilliant he is, not much emotional stuff going on for him, but here there is a definite arch. Because he’s near the end of his life it doesn’t feel like they’re going outside of what would be in his character. The only things I didn’t like about the film were there were a few scenes that felt as though they could have been trimmed down a little but the film still flows just fine as is. The other is more of a pet peeve of mine. There is a scene where old Sherlock goes to see a film based on himself. Because of the needs of the story they couldn’t just use an actual Sherlock Holmes film so they re-created the look and feel of a 40’s or 50’s film. The acting, sets, and shots are all on the money but the black and white contrast isn’t quite right, it’s way too clean and not enough grain to look like it was really filmed on camera stock from that era. I know it’s just a pet peeve of mine since I have filmed in color and switched it to black and white and there is a way to do it so it looks like you really shot it on black and white celluloid. Other than these two minor gripes this was a very entertaining movie.
Rewatchability – 5
I’m going to give the film a 5 for rewatchability because as I said before the story is well crafted but not immediately forthcoming. You wonder what all this has to do with one another but then in the end it all connects. Which for me means it may play better the second time so you aren’t just waiting around for the connections like the first time watching.
So I give the "Mr. Holmes" 4 ½ stars out of 5. I recommend it, see it if you can if you don't mind slower films and if you want to get a leg up on a film that you will probably hear more about come awards season. It's playing in select theaters so check before heading out.