Review by Kathleen Costa
Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a DVD copy of Mr. Holmes.
It is post WWII. Long retired to his Sussex farmhouse and suffering from the onset of ‘senility,’ 93 year-old Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) is greeted by his housekeeper Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her son, Roger (Milo Parker). He has returned from Hiroshima with a questionable treatment using a prickly ash mixture to stave off his mental and physical decline. Dr. Watson is long gone and with a failing memory, he is compelled to pen his last investigation, The Case of the Dove Grey Glove, before his memory will not allow it. A close relationship unfolds between Holmes and young Roger often soliciting an opinion about the case as a mentor would with an apprentice along with sharing the responsibilities for caring for his apiary. Dr. Watson may be absent, but Roger appears to fill that void as companion and caregiver.
|Image Source Miramax|
With troublesome symptoms of senility, Holmes flashes back to his final case and sets out to pen his version of the investigation. He recalls, thirty years long gone, a husband Thomas Kelmot (Patrick Kennedy), distraught over the changes he observes in his wife Anne (Hattie Morahan), who is struggling in the wake of two devastating miscarriages. The husband is very uneasy with her behavior after she takes an interest in the glass harmonica…did he hear her call out the names of her departed children? As Holmes follows her, he sees evidence of her dark intentions. Approaching her and divulging his conclusions, she asks that they share in the strain of their loneliness. His reaction suggesting she return to her husband has devastating results leading to his self-imposed exile.
Seeking a treatment for his mental decline, Holmes flashes back to his travels to Japan where he is greeted by Mr. Umezaki (Hiroyuki Sanada) who confesses he and his mother are fans of his legendary personae and is eager to find the prickly ash he is sure will successfully manage his symptoms. Mr. Umezaki and his mother are surprised that many of the characteristics they were interested in from Watson’s stories had been “created by his imaginative license.” He indicates, “Deerstalker? I never wore one,” and “I prefer a cigar.” Showing Holmes a letter, Mr. Umezaki explains that his father went to England many years ago and sadly never returned having indicated in a ‘Dear John’ style letter he sought Holmes’s counsel and advice. Holmes says he has no recollection of his father saying that he may have “wanted a new life.” They part, the young man crushed by Holmes’s words.
Although honesty is the ’best policy,’ Holmes curmudgeon-style can be a brutal pill to swallow, sometimes with unforeseen consequences, and when young Roger mirrors this style Holmes looks deeper into his own behavior and that of those around him. He concludes his story, has a revelation about Watson’s motives for some of his literary embellishments, and tries to settle feelings with a truth about Mr. Umezaki’s father. Life is uncertain for Holmes, but he seems secure in the idea that he is not alone.
This film was the perfect end to a lustrous life. Ian McKellen was the epitome of the iconic figure, and Milo Parker, as Roger, emulated well Watson’s caring companionship and delight in learning from Holmes. The added focus on Holmes’s ‘bees,’ prickly ash, and royal jelly led me to seek out more information wondering if there is a natural therapy for my own occasional lapses in memory. I teared up when Holmes created his own ‘circle of stones’ similar to that which he observed in Japan, and Roger goes off to teach his mother about the bees.
As a ‘Sherlock Holmes’ fan, this movie earned a 5/5 pots of honey and royal jelly!
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