Mr. Holmes ***1/2
What if everyone’s favorite super-deducing crime-solving detective, Sherlock Holmes, was reimagined as a retired, grumpy, 93-year old in failing health?
In “Mr. Holmes” we’re allowed to consider that Holmes, alive and not-so-well in 1947, was a real person, not just a literary character.
The film is based on the 2005 Mitch Cullin novel, “A Slight Trick of the Mind.” Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf in all of the “Lord of the Rings” installments, bring heart and compassion to Holmes, who struggles to solve the one last case he abandoned years earlier.
Ironically suffering from the cruelest of all possible ailments of the elderly, memory loss, Holmes enlists the help of his new housekeeper’s son, smart-as-a-whip 11-year-old Roger (Milo Parker). Much to the chagrin of the boy’s mother, Mrs. Munro, played by Laura Linney, Holmes and the boy slowly bond over Holmes’ local beehives, and this one last great mystery they must solve together.
The BBC production plods on like slow-moving “Downtown Abby,” rich with historical detail, spot-on English wardrobe, and a beautifully stark Sussex setting near the cliffs of Dover.
There’s plenty of drama between the three; Holmes, Mrs. Munro and young Roger, and a few tense moments kicking off Act III, but if it’s action and a frenetic pace you’re looking for, don’t look here.
If you’re an anglophile, or part of the legion of Sherlockian fans, then “Mr. Holmes” will be a welcome bit of filmmaking in the best of the British tradition.