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Mr. Holmes (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 105 minutes.

OK for children.

Although sitting through this seems a good cure for insomnia, it has its moments. Based on the novel ďA Slight Trick of the MindĒ by Mitch Cullin, director David Condon brings Ian McKellen to the screen as an aged Sherlock Holmes in 1947, a 93-year old who retired from sleuthing 30 years previously. This film tells the story in flashbacks to the case that caused him to retire and another issue that arose on a recent trip to Japan.

But this is a Holmes without his usual cast of characters, like Dr. John Watson, his brother Mycroft, and Inspector Lestrade, all of whom have died. Holmes is alone with only a housekeeper, Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her son, Roger (Milo Parker) with whom he interfaces.

Holmes is still an analytical character but heís lost some of his faculties, and this film concentrates on his weakness in dealing with people from an emotional point of view, which has caused all his problems of regret. But this is the Holmes of Basil Rathbone, not the imposter created by Robert Downey, Jr.

The film deals with the last cases he felt he could have done better. So it is a mystery because the film takes us back to the both cases and we basically work through them from beginning to end in flashbacks. Hattie Morahan gives a good performance as Ann Kelmot, the woman involved in the case that haunts Sherlock, as does Hiroyuki Sanada as Mr. Umezaki, the Japanese who is involved in the other case that Sherlock thinks he mishandled.

It is far too long and drags enormously. The boy, 12 year old Parker, however, comes through with a sparkling performance, constantly upstaging 75 year old McKellen even though Ian expertly captures what Sherlock would probably have been like had he ever existed and survived to such a ripe old age. Linney does a good job in a thankless role.

Itís greatly aided by the atmospheric Sussex filming location and an outstanding score (Carter Burwell), both of which help to keep one from nodding off. I looked at my watch a lot and wished that Condon had used an editor with shaper scissors. Like most films these days, this should have been at least 20 minutes shorter.