DATELINE: New Movies, Old Heroes
With all the new and revised Sherlock Holmes films and television series overwhelming those devoted to the Doyle canon, what a breath of fresh air to find ourselves facing a brilliant new movie last night: Mr. Holmes with Ian McKellan playing Sherlock at 70 in flashbacks, and 93 in 1947.
In no mean feat, McKellan manages to play the active Holmes, unable to solve his final case, driving him into retirement, having eschewed Watson. His new housekeeper’s young son seems to urge him to come out of retirement at 93—but Holmes is dubious.
Interesting and subtle difference between a spry Holmes failing in his last case at 70 and quitting–and doddering and with senility and memory loss at 93–emerge in McKellan’s sharp performance. Even Holmes with Alzheimer’s is better than most detectives with all their faculties.
With all his favorites dead and gone, he lives as a beekeeper in Sussex (true to stories) and now regrets he did not solve his last case–and decides to do so before he dies.
Holmes must come face to face with the horrors of 20th century progress—from Hiroshima to bad movie depictions of him. He attends a showing, unnoticed, and disdains the movie.
Fascinating and ultimately moving portrait of Holmes, the film directed by Bill Condon is absolutely true to original stories (unlike one highly touted American series).
Amusing trivia abounds, but this film is more than clever. It is deeply moving and transfixing as we watch the ravages of old age upon an icon.
The teenage star of YOUNG SHERLOCK, Nicholas Rowe, returns to the screen to play the movie version of adult Holmes! Clever movie with many Hitchcock references and Holmes touches.
Whether this turns into a franchise of old Sherlock stories depends entirely on the decision of Ian McKellan.