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Could Sir Ian McKellen Possibly Be The Best Sherlock Holmes Ever?
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Could Sir Ian McKellen Possibly Be The Best Sherlock Holmes Ever?

by Tania KnuttOctober 7, 2015

LAST week, we got to catch Mr. Holmes, a crime drama and mystery based on much-loved character Sherlock Holmes. Directed by Bill Condon, Mr. Holmes puts forward the impeccable Sir Ian McKellen as its lead, with support from award-winning actress Laura Linney.

Mr Holmes is a new twist on the world’s famous detective. In 1947, an aging Sherlock Holmes (Sir Ian McKellen) returns from a journey from Japan in search of a rare plant with powerful restorative qualities. But throughout this journey, he witnessed the devastation of nuclear warfare.

 Now in his remote seaside farmhouse, Holmes faces the end of his days tending to his bees, with only the company of his housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her son, Roger (Milo Parker). Grappling with the diminishing powers of his mind, Holmes comes to rely on the boy as he revisits the circumstances of the unsolved case that forced him into retirement.

In the meantime, he searches for the answers to the mysteries of life and love – before it’s too late.

Before we get into Mr. Holmes, readers ought to know that this writer isn’t exactly the biggest Sherlock Holmes fan. Therefore, we have chosen to present several perspectives, including reviews we sourced from the internet which seemed relevant and legit enough!

The film had its ups and downs but it definitely wasn’t as bad as the last two Twilight films — yes, Bill Condon was also behind Breaking Dawn: Part 1 & 2. But we’re not judging him as we know he also directed and wrote Dreamgirls and was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay adaptation of Chicago — and those were spectacular films.

Even without following the television series or knowing the stories, the film was watchable and understandable nevertheless. There were moments where it reaches a climatic peak but eventually and subtly loses its momentum. Despite it all, it was the great Gandalf / MagnetoIan McKellen that made the film worth watching.

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Now, we weren’t the only ones who thought so. From reading up on the reviews of Mr. Holmes from Sherlock fans to legit film reviewers, we found that the NY Times worded our sentiments in a much clearer manner.

The film’s plots are soft and flimsy, and they don’t mesh as gracefully as they might, but they do serve as an adequate trellis for Mr. McKellen’s performance, which is gratifyingly but unsurprisingly wonderful.

You might also detect some kinship between Holmes and Magneto, Mr McKellen’s mutant in the X-Men movies, whose genius is filtered through rage and resentment. Not that Holmes is angry, though he does now and then betray a flicker of impatience. He is, however, very much a man of feeling as well as a creature of reason and the suggestions of buried emotion.

– NY Times

And then we have a review from Rogerebert praising McKellen’s performance because it was really the actor that stood out more than the plot of the film.

There is something sadly discomforting in witnessing this genius in decline, his blue eyes going opaque to indicate senior moments and his fading voice expressing deep regret over the past, especially his valuing of logic over emotion.

This plot strand eventually sets up the film’s redemptive conclusion but falls somewhat flat.


The Telegraph was particularly helpful on letting fans know what they can expect from this movie.

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.

McKellen, a rummager par excellence, goes to town here like a one-man band playing all the greatest hits. His performance has a rich musicality, throwing out a host of baritone notes and making them harmonise: he can be sour and contemptuous, rheumy and self-pitying, a bit of a fraud.


In conclusion?

Though we’d deem the film a little under-cooked, Mr. Holmes magnifies on how the past defines us and regrets haunt us. There’s also the matter of making things right while you’re alive — a strong value we’re familiar with and can relate to.

It might not be what audiences expect from your usual Sherlock but Mr. Holmes‘s cinematography was simply breathtaking, specifically scenes of his seaside farmhouse.

We’d recommend it if you’re a fan of Sir Ian McKellen, as his portrayal of famous Sherlock Holmes was impeccable and beautiful to watch. But to Sherlock fans… this might serve as a warning that it may end up being a bit of a disappointment.

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Mr. Holmes is now showing in cinemas!

About The Author
Profile photo of Tania Knutt
Tania Knutt
She enjoys her morning coffees with a spoon of Nutella and a bowl of 'Carpe Diem'. Tania Knutt is a writer for The Daily Seni.

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