Mr. Holmes Screen 13 articles

Mr. Holmes


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  • It's an optimistic but speciously sentimental view of the power of expression as a whopping, vehement force, which Condon unfortunately matches with docile, bucolic imagery and little in the way of insight into how a creative or analytical mind works.

  • What I don’t get is why they tell this version of the Holmes story this way, like it’s scripture. Perhaps it’s the only one available to McKellen. And it is a decent excuse for Condon to work with him and Linney again, despite both having been better in the previous outings (Gods and Monsters for him; Kinsey for her). But Condon isn’t the most imaginative director of interiority. He keeps pushing all the maudlin buttons like a crazy switchboard operator.

  • If Condon seems like particularly good casting here, it’s because, in its theme of faded celebrity, and its central dynamic of an eminence grise, a young protege and a stern housekeeper, “Mr. Holmes” carries more than a faint echo of “Gods and Monsters,” the director’s 1998 Oscar winner about the last days of “Frankenstein” director James Whale (also played by McKellen).

  • ...McKellen must show a man at multiple stages of elderliness. He does so with much conviction -- particularly touching here are those scenes in which he demonstrates a real vulnerability (including great on-screen chemistry with his doctor, played by criminally underused Roger Allam). It's in these same moments that "Mr. Holmes" stands apart from earlier versions that propagate the character as the sui generis of invincible intellectuals.

  • [The film wouldn't] have been half as affecting if it weren't for McKellen: As ever with this great actor at the top of his form, he marries an obvious love of performance with a mature wisdom underneath the extroversion. Condon's film operates much the same way: As entertaining as it is on the surface, there's a deeply moving sense of greater, grimmer truths being imparted.

  • There’s nothing about the film that Conan Doyle fans, McKellen fans, Linney fans, and anyone partial to a lilting Carter Burwell score won’t relish. TV Sherlock fans – not necessarily the same constituency – may miss its jumped-up speed and ingenuity. This is Holmes intentionally slowed down to a hobbling, reflective, end-of-life pace: dare we call it refreshing? It’s a film to rummage around in, picking up old clues, considering their meaning, and turning them in your palm.

  • There has been a debunking tendency in Holmes films and fiction since Wilder, from the psychological reductionism of Nicholas Meyer's The Seven-Per-Cent Solution to the depiction of the great detective as a high-functioning sociopath or Chaplinesque scruff in recent TV and film versions. But Mr. Holmes plays a subtler, more affecting game while retaining a fondness for Doyle's characters and their depths.

  • Gone is the infallible genius, iconic pipe and deerstalker hat. In their place is a world that has seen the horrors of both World Wars, and the much-esteemed Sherlock has transformed into an elderly man who must write people's names on his sleeve so he can remember them. Far from being a shallow film, then, Mr. Holmes makes for quite a touching look at how low even the mighty must fall in a world where the notes of mortality often seem to sound in all the most tragic places.

  • Holmes is in the film played with expected tenderness, acuity and wit by Sir Ian McKellen, now as an ageing ex-sleuth who has ensconced himself in a Dorset farmhouse to rake over the glowing embers of his formative career as well setting the record straight as to his vaunted public persona.

  • In comparison with slicker recent screen versions, Mr. Holmes initially comes off as laughably staid and old-fashioned, and something more suited to a Sunday evening TV slot than the big screen, but there is a depth and wisdom to be found behind the film’s doddery façade for the patient viewer.

  • Sharing vague recollections with us through the marvelous flashbacks of director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) and editor Virginia Katz, this latest version of Sherlock is a smart, moving, and gentle film.

  • Mr. Holmes is as touching as it is peculiar—a minor movie spiked with major pleasures. Rather than a surging mystery or a scintillating Conan Doyle pastiche, it’s a bedtime story for grownups about the delayed getting of wisdom.

  • Mr. Holmes brings him face to face with the things he cannot fathom, or control. It’s a gripping little tale, to be sure, but it’s more than that. Somewhere in its tangle of timelines, false starts, and red herrings is a great truth about the unsolvable mystery of the human soul.

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