By Liz Lopez
Ian McKellen is a very talented actor that I have enjoyed viewing and most recently at the end of last year as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and most certainly all the previous Hobbit films leading up to it. It is a real treat to view the BBC Films feature, Mr. Holmes, where McKellen stars as an aged and ill Sherlock Holmes in the late 1940s. McKellen is a superb actor to bring Sherlock Holmes to life and he does a superior job performing as someone older than his given age. The screenplay is written by Jeffrey Hatcher, adapted from the novel A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin and this drama is directed by Bill Condon (The Fifth Estate, Dreamgirls, Kinsey and both of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn films). I have not read the novel this film is based on, but I genuinely enjoyed the story about the famous detective – fictional – but real to many who come to know him from the many books published about his work. I highly recommend this film for Holmes and McKellen fans alike.
Hatcher has created a version of Holmes that allows the viewer to get to know a side of the strong detective that would not be described in any previous books – his very human, frail side – as he now wants to document the details of an unsolved case that forever changed his life. It is hard to do when the mind is diminishing with ill health. I found the most impressive scenes are the ones where Holmes (McKellen) returns to his seaside farm where his only company is the housekeeper, Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney), her son, Roger (Milo Parker) and the bees he tends to. There are some very dramatic scenes as well as some very pleasant moments as the three interact very much like a family with an elder living at home and one who has not quite accepted needing help to do things. This Holmes story is one not one like any I have viewed and is not to be missed.
The cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler is well done as it captures beautiful beach scenes and very close – up scenes of Holmes as he struggles to remember the very details that elude him in order to have peace of mind. The scene from Japan when he is on the hunt for a rare plant also is excellent in conveying the gloom and devastation after the war. Schliessler’s shots of Roger (Parker) are also very sweet and moving as he develops his relationship with Holmes, learning all he can about life and nature with the bees from the man he looks up to and does not want to abandon.
Mr. Holmes will be in the following theatres in Austin this Friday July 17th: Arbor Cinemas at Great Hills 8, Barton Creek 14, Violet Crown Cinemas and Hill Country Galleria 14.