Film Review: Mr Holmes (Bill Condon, 2015) ★★★½

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Directed by Bill Condon and presenting a new take on the Arthur Conan Doyle classics, Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen), now 93-years old, attempts to recall the unfortunate incident and unsolved case that resulted in his retirement.

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 We've seen many adaptations of Sherlock Holmes on both the big and little screen over the years and Sir Ian McKellen is the latest to take on the legendary role of the great British detective. Seen in the 1920's in shorts, Benedict Cumberbatch in TV show Sherlock (2010) and more recently by Robert Downey Jnr. in Guy Richie's punchy reincarnation, Bill Condon's take is unlike any we've ever seen before.

Set in 1947, now in his nineties and a recluse, residing in Sussex and tending to his beloved bees, Sherlock Holmes is losing his memory and his health is deteriorating. Returning from a trip to Japan to find a remedy in the form of prickly ash, Sherlock's mind and body are still failing him. He rifles through his old memoirs only to remind himself of his final case thirty years prior - left unsolved and haunting him and the cause for his estrangement from John Watson. Aided by his housekeeper (Laura Linney, with a wandering accent) and her young son, Roger (Milo Parker), with whom Holmes develops an unlikely and endearing friendship, we spiral back to the past.

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Like its eponymous hero, the film drifts in and out of focus as it sifts through its deck of memories. In some areas, the narrative and plot development is slow and with a somewhat anti-climatic finish.  Though often whimsical and heart warming, in many ways, the film is let down by it's direction as the shots are not particularly breathe-taking nor is the cinematography outstanding. Instead it's success relies heavily on the acting. Mr Holmes should be recognised more for its outstanding performances from both rising star Parker, Linney as an uncertain and fearful mother and most importantly - McKellen who delivers a moving and memorable performance as a previously unseen Sherlock. There is still a hint of the Gandalf melancholy but the incredible visual effects transform McKellen between decades to the heart-breaking image of a once great man, now fading and torturing himself for his past mistakes.

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Though it felt more like an ITV Sunday drama in some scenes, Mr Holmes has grown on me the more I ponder it. The film not only looks back at the life of a man through fading memory, but shows a man as he looks back at the myth of Sherlock Holmes. Exploring the artists illustration of his iconic deer stalker hat and pipe and featuring a scene in which Sherlock visits the cinema, finding it humorous to see himself on screen, portrayed by Nicholas Rowe (whom we saw in the original Young Sherlock Holmes series in 1985). This is certainly a new and refreshing take on the Arthur Conan Doyle classics and the production has a constant undercurrent of warmth and humanity.

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For it's outstanding performance by McKellen and some heart-warming, sometimes moving scenes, Mr Holmes gets a Sophie star rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. I really hope to see McKellen recognised for his portrayal of Sherlock and perhaps to see the movie receive some nominations for the prosthetics and costume. Mr Holmes truly tugs at the heart strings and proves there's nothing more devastating  to watch than an old, sad Ian McKellen. He can do no wrong.

Have you seen Mr Holmes? What's your favourite Ian McKellen performance? I really like reviewing the lesser recognised titles sometimes and hope that it inspires some people to go see something a little out of their normal film choices. Hope you like it if you decide to go see it - if only for Ian McKellen's performance!

Until next time,


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14 comments:

  1. Ian McKellen is so fab. Not surprised his acting helped bolster this film. A shame the cinematography wasn't so up to scratch.

    Rachel | www.currentlyrachel.com

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    1. I know, I love him so much! It's definitely worth seeing for him alone to be honest x

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  2. I haven't seen this movie before - definitely going to keep an eye out for it


    CANDICE | BEAUTY CANDY LOVES

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    1. Yay! Please do - Ian McKellen is amazing as always in it x

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  3. It was SO good! I'm so glad someone else has seen it too and so great to find another female film junkie who knows her stuff. Great review! I love Ian McKellen in this movie. It would be great if you'd check out my film blog too if you're interested :)

    Ashley Christie x https://imamovienerd.wordpress.com/

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    1. Aw yay! I'm so glad someone else has seen it aswell! Haha thanks very much, I'll check yours out too :) I know, McKellen is amazing, he can do no wrong in my eyes :) Thanks for commenting hun x

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  4. Too bad for me that this film won't be shown in the US until July 17 :( I'm a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. I've read all the novels and short stories. I have a lot of related movies and tv shows on video (including Young Sherlock Holmes and Without a Clue, where Michael Caine is hired by Ben Kingsley to play Sherlock and I have the Granada series with Jeremy Brett as well as the Cumberbatch/Freeman version).

    Yes, Ian McKellen is awesome. He's great in the LOTR and the X-Men movies. I recommend his performance in Gods and Monsters (also directed by Bill Condon); the cinematography in that one was fine. Also his Richard III is excellent (yes I know that Shakespeare was probably really unfair to Richard III).

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    1. Aw well you should definitely see it when it comes out finally. A very different take to any Sherlock you've seen before. Yes Gods and Monsters is brilliant - probably one of Condon's best although he doesn't have a great CV though it is getting there after this now aswell :)

      Hope you're feeling better now Gil!

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    2. Yes, I'm much better (not at 100%, though). Getting lots of rest is helping. Thanks so much for asking, Sophie! x

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  5. Wow, such a cool movie, thanks for sharing. ^^
    Lovely greets Nessa

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  6. This sounds like something I'll like to watch. Hopefully I can find it online or I'm stuck waiting for the release next month in the US lol

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    1. Yeah I think it's out in July for you guys! Hopefully you get a chance to see it! :) xx

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  7. I cannot wait to watch this as I love Ian Mckellen, he's such a great actor! x

    Blushhx

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