Famed detective is Sherlock Holmes and his countless iterations through novels and films prove timeless so it is no shock that a more realistic view of the famed detective surfaces for audiences to admire. Coming from the Oscar winning writer and director Bill Condon, we take a look at an aged Holmes as he struggles to remember details of a mystery 30 years prior and words to just complete his sentences. As an older Holmes, Sir Ian McKellan shows off his A1 acting skills for all to admire in this handsome British drama, but as fair and handsome it is, this classy film lacks in personality.
As Holmes returns to his quaint village home, he garners a friendly role as a mentor and grandfather figure to a young boy who takes an interest in Holmes as the young boy proves to the great detective that he is up for the challenges of solving mysteries. From there, the film becomes a softly layered drama with a hint of Holmes like mystery, but it is far from a murder mystery as the film goes on.
The film focuses on the non-fiction side of the detective and puts to rest what we as fans assume Holmes looks like and all the idiosyncrasies that come with him. Holmes comes back from a trip to Japan where he tries to find a cure for the symptoms that plague him with old age. Along the way he meets people he learns are important to the last days of his life with condescending comments and a humble respect for those who can match or keep up with his intellect. Milo Parker plays Roger, the young boy who takes a liking to Holmes and the bees they take care of at his home. Roger’s mother is Holme’s housekeeper and a subtle victim of the passive aggressive detective as Roger and Holmes’ newly-found relationship grows.
This film is skillfully written as many British style films are with the strong dialogue and high caliber actors portraying the characters and it gives a pleasant PG rated spin on the detective, but what many British films can often do is be as grey as some of the towns they are set in and that can lead to a dragged out feeling during your viewing. Yes the film is good, but it doesn’t have that flare of even a mellow-drama like this. It feels as though the audience is more for the older generation who can appreciate the calming scenery and intelligent dialogue, not to mention the themes of getting older and being alone with your last moments.
SIr Ian McKellan is outstanding as always and does a convincing job at being even older than he already is. The young boy who acts aside him through a majority of the film is also quite good, but the film becomes a bit of snoozer for anyone expecting it to have a more conventional mystery to it. Though it does deliver the standard Sherlock Holmes Easter eggs throughout, this isn’t Robert Downey Jr.’s version of the film or even a look into the future of a Holmes similar to what RDJ gave us. Instead, this is a much more sound and calm telling of an aged and retired Holmes who solves one last mystery as he copes with the realities in front of him.