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Mr Holmes by Bill Condon|Movie Review

Directed by Bill Condon, Mr Holmes features Ian McKellen as 94 year old Sherlock Holmes striving to tie the loose ends and gather a sense of completion around him before death claims him. He is a man whose senses are going slowly, along with his memory.

Movie : Mr. Holmes
Director :
Bill Condon
Produced by : Anne Carey, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman
Screenplay by :
Based On : A Slight Trick of the Mind by
Music By : Carter Burwell
Editor : Virginia Katz
Cinematography :
Production Companies : AI Film, BBC Films, FilmNation Entertainment, Archer Gray Productions, Sea-Saw Films
Distributed by : Miramax, Roadside Attractions
Released On : (UK),
Starring : Ian McKellen (Sherlock Holmes), Laura Linney (Mrs. Munro), Milo Parker (Roger Munro), Hiroyuki Sanada (Tamiki Umezak), Hattie Morahan (Ann Kelmot), Patrick Kennedy (Thomas Kelmot), Roger Allam (Dr. Barrie), Phil Davis (Inspector Gilbert), Frances de la Tour (Madame Schirmer), Colin Starkey (Dr. John Watson), and others…
Purchase Link(s) : N/A

What it explores?

Mr. Holmes travels to Japan looking for Prickly Ash which as per latest research of the time is known to aid longevity and fight against senility. As he says to his Japanese host Mr Umezaki, he is working on a very important project that he must finish – this project being his re-writing the story of Anne Kelmot, the very last case of his career. He is convinced that something must have gone wrong in that case to inspire him to leave his profession and retire in the country house where he presently lives with the housekeeper Mrs. Munro and her son Roger. Dr. John Watson’s account of this adventure doesn’t feel right.

But then Mr. Holmes has never been a man of feelings, he has always preferred logic and facts – to the point of brutality at times. For instance, when he remarks that “Unusual children are often products of unremarkable parents”, right in face of a proud mother or tells a grieving mother that she could not have done anything to help her son. He has never been the person who takes a sad woman by her hand and soothes her and tells her it is going to be OK. No, Holmes’ life has been the pinnacle of what can be logically derived from facts and observations, and therefore by default he has always been terribly alone.

He has never been one for fiction, but can he spin a little fiction to give a closure to a Japanese man who grew up without a father? Can he bond with the young protégé he has just discovered? Can he fight the jealousy of the mother who has nothing but a son left to remind her of what was and could have been?

Movie Trailer

Cinematic components

The cinematography is superb and the costumes and sets bring to life the period of late 1940’s after the World War II. Ian McKellen does full justice to his part, both as a resplendent, successful Holmes and the old, bewildered, confused and almost spiteful Holmes. While the film is based on ‘A Slight Trick of the Mind’ by Mitch Cullin, the movie script varies quite a bit on the details from the book. Some characters are absent; events have been juggled around and above all the film delivers a traditional happy ending.

Comparing with the book

While the book dealt with how the brain works and how lost someone like Sherlock Holmes would be without his razor sharp memory, the film deals more with Sherlock Holmes’ incapability to handle emotions and mysteries of human nature. But, the most striking alteration is the meeting between Anne and Sherlock in the garden. In the book, this conversation inspires Sherlock’s passion for his apiary that keeps him going to the end, but in the film this conversation is centred on the theme of loneliness and other world.

The film dutifully declares Dr Watson’s accounts quite exaggerated, which is necessary to set the tone of the film. Because, the Holmes that Dr Watson has chronicled, seem to predict human behaviour and impersonate amost anybody, quite easily.

Final Verdict

Differences between the film and the book aside, it is a slow, poignant tale, told against beautiful settings. It is only 104 minutes long and worth watching……………

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