There is BBC’s Sherlock and then there is BBC’s Mr. Holmes. Based on the novel named “A Slight Trick of the Mind” by Mitch Culling Mr. Holmes is a charming little film. The film seems to have escaped the attention of many, especially fans of the beloved Sleuth living on Baker Street and perhaps that would explain why even after a year of its release, people are still not talking about it.
Mr. Holmes is everything that a Holmesian fan can imagine it to be and it also isn’t. It opens in 1947 with a retired Sherlock Holmes at the age of 93, played by Sir Ian McKellen reminiscing about his past and haunted by the memories they bring up. Ian McKellen is every bit Homes, banishing myths from the real character that he is, living in a small English countryside village. As Director Bill Condon states the films is really all about ‘an Icon playing an Icon’. McKellen’s Mr. Holmes is someone who will tug at your heart-strings and make you writhe in pain seeing Holmes as you have never seen him before – old, vulnerable and lovable. His performance is sometimes even too painful to watch often reminding me of my deceased grandparents and constantly reminding you how frail old age is. McKellen’s Holmes could very well be the best Holmes ever!
The film also boasts of enthralling performances from its other leading actors, Academy Award Nominee Laura Linney and Milo Parker. Parker, who is 14 and only a few films old, is captivating and charismatic as young Roger. He is definitely a natural actor and shares a delightful chemistry with McKellen. There is a devilish wicked quality about the boy, a rare spark in his eyes. Roger is deeply loving and ever curious and what makes him so endearing is that he sees Holmes for Holmes, not the intimidating figure one finds inside and outside Dr.Watson’s books and stories. Roger for me immortalises young kids of his age who are full of curiosity and empathy for the old. Linney gives a heartfelt performance as Parker’s mother who is susceptible to breaking into tears at the slightest mention of something emotional, like other characters she is very believable and human.
Unlike Condon’s other films, this one is a slow-burner (which makes perfect sense) having the right amount of suspense, wit and drama accompanied with a tight screenplay and fine story-telling by Condon, who has outdone himself with this film. The art direction creates the time period immaculately if not in a clever minimalistic fashion. The editing is also perfect with not a shot out of place or feeling unnecessary.
If you have time and if you are one of those people who love listening to soundtracks, then the soundtrack of this film, which is as good as the film itself (as many other fans of the film will tell you) is a must-hear for you. The track named Mr. Holmes which is a lingering theme throughout the film exudes Victorian charm while making Holmes a lovable approachable figure, one to be remembered more for his failures than his grand successes.