By Christian DiMartino
Seeing Sir Ian McKellen in anything is always a delight. Now, more than ever, he just has this warm, grandfather-ish presence to him that is just difficult to resist, and he puts that feeling to great use in Mr Holmes.
Mr. Holmes tells a tale of an elderly Sherlock Holmes. I’ve always kinda wondered what an old James Bond or Batman would look like (my guess is… a bit goofy). But McKellen makes this geriatric Holmes a winner. Him and director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Kinsey) build a fairly strong case for this film’s existence.
We find an aged, retired Holmes staying in a cottage with a housekeeper named Mrs. Munroe (Laura Linney) and her son, Roger (Milo Parker). Throughout the film, we find Holmes and Roger discussing Holmes’ kast case, one that he is having trouble remembering due to his growing dementia.
Roger also just so happens to be a smart young fella. A worthy challenge for him. We also see Holmes lamenting about a woman, for who he still cannot stop thinking about.
McKellan is obviously a charmer. Linney is also strong as Holmes’ caretaker, and Parker is a surprisingly good actor. I say surprisingly because child actors either sink or swim. This is also a fairly exquisite looking production, and it features another great score from the long over-looked Carter Burwell (who will definitely score an Oscar nomination this year for Carol).
Surprisingly, I wasn’t all that invested in the mystery portion. There is always something going on here, but when it came to the mystery portion, I wanted to see the segment involving McKellen and Parker. I mean, it’s okay, but I was much more interested in just seeing McKellen lament on the past rather than the past itself.
I didn’t love Mr. Holmes, but I did love McKellen’s performance, and for that reason, you should see it.