My recently rekindled fascination for Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes character and stories continues unabated. I’m still saving the final episode of Season Four of the BBC’s Sherlock for just the right moment, but in the meantime, I have been reading a few of Doyle’s stories, stories written by other authors in homage to the character, and watching documentaries and old movies relating to Holmes. All of this led to my discovery of this week’s Movie for Readers: the 2015 British film, Mr. Holmes starring Ian McKellen that opened in the U.S in July of that year.
As noted, the film stars Ian McKellen as Holmes, but it includes a fine cast of supporting actors as well: Laura Linney as Mrs. Munro (the Holmes housekeeper), Milo Parker ( a wonderful child actor who plays Mrs. Munro’s young son), Hattie Morahan (Anne Kelmot, whose husband hires Holmes to follow her), Patrick Kennedy (Anne Helmot’s husband), and Hiroyuki Sanada (who plays a man whose father worked with Holmes and British Intelligence during WWII).
Movie Trailer for Mr. Holmes (2015)
The film is based on Mitch Cullin’s A Slight Trick of the Mind, the 2005 novel that portrays a 93-year-old Holmes desperately seeking to produce a factual account of his final case, the one that forced him into retirement some thirty years earlier. Throughout the movie, Holmes battles memory loss and the various frailties and indignities of old age. His sense of balance is failing him and he falls a lot; his walking pace is slow and his range limited; his housekeeper and doctor expect him to die suddenly at any moment; and he falls asleep in his chair if he sits for more than a few moments.
Sherlock’s memory of that final investigation is somewhat clouded by the book that his friend John Watson wrote about it, but Holmes is determined to get his facts in order so that he can correct the fictitious ending that Watson used in his own account of what happened in this 1947 case. Holmes knows that he must have made some terrible mistake in that investigation, something so awfully embarrassing or destructive that it caused him to exile himself to the countryside where he has now indulged himself in a life of beekeeping for the past three decades.
But he can’t remember what it was…or can he?
Mr. Holmes is a beautifully produced film, so much so in fact, that its production values (including the fine actors involved) threaten at times to overwhelm the plot. This one is likely to appeal more to Sherlock Holmes fans than anyone else, but it is well worth a look from everyone.