Wednesday, September 30, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: MR HOLMES (2015)

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From IMDB:

Storyline

"Mr. Holmes" is a new twist on the world’s most famous detective.1947, an aging Sherlock Holmes returns from a journey to Japan, where, in search of a rare plant with powerful restorative qualities, he has 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 and her young son, Roger. Grappling with the diminishing powers of his mind, Holmes comes to rely upon the boy as he revisits the circumstances of the unsolved case that forced him into retirement, and searches for answers to the mysteries of life and love – before it's too late.

Ratings: 7.4/10 from 8,697 users 

Rating: PG (for thematic elements, some disturbing images and incidental smoking)
Directed By: Bill Condon
Written By: Jeffrey Hatcher
In Theaters: Jul 17, 2015 Limited
On DVD: Nov 10, 2015
US Box Office: $17.6M
Runtime: 1 hr. 45 min.
Roadside Attractions - Official Site

MR HOLMES OPENS IN MALAYSIA ON THE 1st OF OCTOBER IN TGV CINEMAS NATIONWIDE SO HEAD ON OVER TO TGV.COM.MY TO GET YOUR TICKETS! FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT WHEN. 

Meet possibly the oldest actor to play Sherlock Holmes as well as the actor who plays the oldest Sherlock Holmes. ©Miramax

A Sherlock Holmes story that isn't about the case...

So Sherlock Holmes the fictional super detective created by British author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A London-based "consulting detective" whose abilities border on the fantastic, Holmes is known for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science to solve difficult cases. Took that bit from the Wikipedia page for it. Appearing in print in 1887 and then later in four novels and 56 short stories the Wikipedia page for it is an interesting profile of this very famous fictional person,

Sherlock Holmes is so popular that his stories have been adapted not only for stage, Television and films but even puppet shows, skits, children's audio drama as well as animated films and even anime. Famous actors that have taken on the role include the great John Barrymore, Orson Welles, John Gielgud, George C. Scott, Leonard Nimoy, Peter O'Toole, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Robert Downey, Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch who is the current and most popular version of Sherlock Holmes. If you know any of those names other than the last few than you know some incredible thespians have taken up the challenge to play the great detective and now it's Ian McKellen's turn.

That's the director of the film Bill Condon, he also directed the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn parts 1 & 2. ©Miramax 

But this isn't your typical Holmes film, instead of concentrating on a case there are a few cases that get Mr Holmes attention and yet the film isn't about those cases. The film is about Mr Holmes. You see the film takes place in England but not in London anymore and it is after World War II and Mr Holmes has decided to retire. And although he may be 93 his skills as a detective are still very present but his memory has begun to fade. He lives in a home just a stones throw away from the ocean and is attended by a house keeper named Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her boy Roger (Milo Parker). Holmes's relationship with Mrs Munro is a professional one, there is little pleasantries and often he is somewhat curt and brusque with her. And with Roger he hardly gives notice. 

His growing senility has not stopped him though as recently he's embarked on a journey to Japan to meet with Tamiki Umezaki (Hiroyuki Sanada) who has corresponded with Holmes over several months after professing his admiration for Holmes's book regarding bees and royal jelly. Umezaki claims that the Japanese Prickly Ash would help him with his senility which is the reason for Holmes's visit to Japan. 

Mr Holmes attempts to be inconspicuous. What would a future Sherlock Holmes hide behind? A phablet? A large tablet? ©Miramax 

Upon his return and his daily consumption of the herb his memory still fades and as he attempts to recall his last case and to put in to paper he discovers that Roger has been sneaking into his room to read his progress. When Holmes confronts Roger so begin their relationship, Roger helps him remember and he teaches Roger a little of his detective skills as well as how to tend to the bees. His efforts to remember begin to enlighten him not so much on the last few cases that he's worked on but on who he is as a person. And he begins to become more than just a man with a brilliant deductive and analytical mind. He becomes a human being. 

Mr Holmes was an utterly fascinating take on the character and on the genre for me. It was fascinating to see Holmes as a human being. Many of the films, and I have to profess I'm not really a fan and have only seen a handful, have Holmes spend most of his time on cases and occasionally those cases would reflect upon himself and he realizes something about himself but here he is merely trying to recollect and in his recollection he begins to look inward. And his journey inwards begins almost immediately as he tries to come to terms and grapple with his ever growing forgetfulness. And try as he might to deny his ever growing senility he can't.

Sir Ian McKellen still looks incredible doesn't he? ©Miramax 

Then there's the relationship with Roger. Gone is Watson his assistant and constant companion and sounding board only to be replaced with a boy eager to learn from the great detective. It annoys him at first but soon he warms up to the boy even if his mother protests their growing familiarity. 

But as interesting as the story is and how it weaves a past case and a forgotten fateful meeting that led to Umezaki to reach out to Holmes in the first place the true gem of this film is Sir Ian Mckellan's performance as Holmes. The film takes between two moments in Holmes's life, as the older and senile Holmes who's strength as well as his faculties begin to fade and the Holmes of 30 years earlier taking on his final case, the case that ultimately led to his retirement. McKellen's transition is quite remarkable, you believe him to be 93 as he tries to walk with his cane and when has his bouts of memory loss and when we travel back 30 years he is believable as well as he trails the wife of the man who hired him. But the most remarkable transition is in his expression, in his eyes from a very alert Sherlock Holmes with shining eyes deducing what the man's wife is up to to a the glazed over look and the bleary eyes as his senility begins to creep up on him. 

The other aspect is of course the relationship between Holmes and Roger. It's quite entertaining. Milo Parker is a talented actor and is able to handle himself quite well next to Sir Ian Mckellan. And of course there's Laura Linney who does quite a good job herself as the mother who is only trying to protect her child but is herself full of insecurities.

This young gent is learning how to be a bee keeper as well as picking up the fine art of deductive reasoning. ©Miramax 

All in all Mr Holmes is a very interesting and entertaining film which shows of Sir Ian McKellen's remarkable skills as a thespian as well as introduces us to a young talent who is quite capable himself. The film may not appeal to those who prefer the traditional Sherlock Holmes, the young detective ever on the trail of a villain or determined to unravel an unusual case. This film is more of an introspective search as well as a film about coming to terms with ones own frailties that have been long ignored or believed to not exist. 

I enjoyed this film and will be giving it a very solid 3.5 out 5. Worth checking it when it hits our cinemas which is soon. It'll be up against The Martian unfortunately but if you have the time try to catch this too. 

Have a look at the trailer. 


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