Sherlock Holmes has been done to death. There are countless versions therefore everyone has a fair idea of what to expect. At this stage of his career Sir Ian McKellen can basically choose any role he wishes and the idea of him having a crack at Sherlock Holmes was very intriguing. It would be a rare opportunity to see McKellen play an iconic character that is not called Gandalf or Magneto. I was looking forward to it.
PLOT: Sherlock Holmes is in his 90’s and living a reclusive life in the country with only his housekeeper Mrs Munro (Laura Linney), her son Roger (Milo Parker) and his much beloved apiary for company. With his health rapidly failing and his memory deserting him Holmes tries to recall the events surrounding the case he failed to solve and ultimately forced him into retirement. END PLOT
As there are so many different incarnations of Sherlock Holmes having an opportunity to see him as a frail old man was actually quite refreshing. The case in question is told through flashbacks as the main focus of the film is Holmes dealing with his ill health and his friendship with Roger. The two timelines merge well but the film lacks any of the dramatic scenarios that we have come to associate with the character. Thankfully, there is an emotional twist that felt earned despite the overall quaintness of the film.
Seeing Sir Ian McKellen as a frail old man was uncomfortable as I believe that the man is so full of life he will outlive us all. McKellen was excellent as an elderly Holmes and he got the opportunity to show off his natural charm during the flashbacks. McKellen also had great chemistry with the young Milo Parker and their scenes together were enjoyable to watch.
Laura Linney is miscast and was hampered by her character being poorly written. Mrs Munro’s backstory was not strong enough to warrant the very large chip on her shoulder. This made it hard to sympathise with her character even when we finally understood the reason for her actions.
Mr Holmes is perhaps a tad too long at 1hour 45mins. It was purposely slow paced but I think that knocking the running time down to a solid 90mins would have made the film a much stronger offering. I found Mr Holmes engaging however if someone were to tell me that they were bored I would understand where they are coming from. Mr Holmes gets 7.5/10. It’s worth a look if only to remind yourself how good an actor Ian McKellen is. As if we would have forgotten.