Mr Holmes takes a unique approach to an iconic character, in an attempt to separate the man from the myth.
“I’ve decided to write the story down; as it was, not as John made it. Get it right, before I die.”
There are few things few things more tragic in life than losing what you once had – particularly something so intangible as the mind. Mr Holmes seeks to capture the daunting process of dementia and channel all that confusion and despair through one of the greatest literary minds of all time. The film represents a union between fiction and reality, blurring those lines by saddling a character, who has long since ascended to an near-supernatural state, with such relatable vulnerability. In doing this, it deconstructs the legacy of Sherlock Holmes, allowing itself to (as the film’s tagline so boldly declares) separate the man from the myth.
It’s a fascinating concept, made all the more powerful by Ian McKellen’s sterling lead performance. His Holmes feels exactly how you’d imagine such a brilliant narcissist to turn out: lonely, wry, embittered. Things sadly get a little stale from there though, as Bill Condon struggles to supplement the drama with a compelling mystery or much forward momentum. As heartwarming as the old Holmes’ burgeoning friendship with young Roger is, it’s also by the numbers and predictable as ever. The story meanders its way to its inevitable conclusion, and you’ll come away mostly satisfied (and a little touched) by the experience. Nothing more, nothing less.
I’ve been watching a few Bill Condon films in the build up to Beauty And The Beast this week, and – aside from his amusingly diverse taste in genres – I haven’t found myself too impressed just yet. Granted, one of the films I samples was Candyman 2: Fear Of The Flesh, but the jury’s still out on this filmmaker. So far, his work seems to live and die on the strength of its script. Condon’s merely a passenger, just along for the ride.
Teaser image art by Ollie Boyd.