Monday, 22 June 2015

Review: Mr Holmes

World of Blackout Film Review

Mr. Holmes Poster

Mr. Holmes
Cert: PG / 104 mins / Dir. Bill Condon / Trailer
WoB Rating: 4/7

It's certainly a brave gambit, source-novel or otherwise, to introduce a new Sherlock Holmes to 2015's audience. They're already fairly familiar with Baker Street's finest these days, or at least with their preferred iteration, and Bill Condon's philosphical drama brings us an odd quandary of a character; the classic Holmes of old, but in a more recent setting, and not himself at all.

Mr Holmes sees a 93yr old Sherlock, retired to the post-war Sussex coast to look after his apiary with his widowed housekeeper Mrs Munro and her young son Roger. The only thing spoiling his well-earned contentment is an overbearing sense of guilt and a rapidly failing memory. Eager to help the great detective and learn more about his final, troublesome case, Roger begins assisting Holmes in writing his final memoir, prodding and cajoling the old man's faculties into action, as three intertwined tales unfold for the audience…

I'll be honest, I found it hard work. There, I said it. There's much to appreciate about Mr Holmes, but it never quite felt like I was watching… well, Mr Holmes. As much as I love Ian KcKellen, I don't think he's right for the role of Sherlock (in either of the film's parallel timeframes), and there's too much of Gandalf in his doddery, wise and quietly mischievous portrayal or Britain's most beloved smartarse. To make matters worse, the narrative's shoehorning of Holmes doing 'his thing' (his wry bursts of observational analysis, basically) just makes things feel more like a cover-version and less like a reprise.

I can't tell if it's the direction or the writing itself, but the film lacks drive, lingering for far too too long in each of its story-strands and being heavy-handedly melancholy in all of them. Usually I'd say that this sort of thing would seem better suited to TV, but I fear the pacing would suffer even more as a result. That said, the period detail of 1947 is well executed (although the 1907 flashbacks seem far cleaner than you'd expect, somehow), and it is always a joy to watch McKellen ply his craft. It just feels like he's plying it for a completely different story.

By no means a re-imagining of the Moffat/Gatiss methodology, Mr Holmes employs the original character we love yet manages to feel more like fan-fiction than most other screen-interpretations I've seen.

As much as I admire the endeavour, I just couldn't connect with the finished film. Maybe I need a deeper understanding of Holmes to get more out of it, or maybe I'm just expecting too much?

SPOILERY-QUESTION: Oh, and could you really go walking around the rubble in Hiroshima as soon as 1947? I know the radiation from that blast was different from the Chernobyl meltdown, but that seems nuts...

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
Only if you're a hardcore Sherlockian.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
Hmmm, probably a rental.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Not even close. Although Laura Linney's accent has a bloody good go.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
For me, no.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Oddly, no.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
McKellen has recently put the role of Gandalf to bed in The Hobbit films, of course, in which he starred opposite Sir Christopher 'Count Dooku' Lee.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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