23rd Oct2015

‘Mr Holmes’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Hattie Morahan, Milo Parker, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hattie Morahan, Patrick Kennedy, Roger Allam, Philip Davis, Frances de la Tour, John Sessions | Written by Jeffrey Hatcher | Directed by Bill Condon


In 1947, the world famous sleuth has retired to a remote Sussex farmhouse, living in relative anonymity with only his housekeeper Mrs Munro and her young son Roger for company. Cantankerous, demanding and frustrated with the mis-representation of him in Watson’s best-selling novels, he diverts his attention to an unsolved case. As the mystery deepens, Sherlock tries desperately to recall the events of 30 years ago that ultimately led to his retirement.

I had high hopes for Mr. Holmes. After all, not only does the film star Ian McKellan in the central role but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character is, typically, guaranteed to provide some intriguing crime-solving action. Not so here.

Instead Conan Doyle’s iconic detective is reduced to nothing more than a feeble old man, mistaken in his memories and, frankly, a danger to all those around him. As some one who grew up watching the classic Jeremy Brett starring ITV iteration of the literary hero, Mr. Holmes makes something of a mockery of the man. After all, I’ve no doubt this is not the sad swansong for Holmes that Conan Doyle would have ever anticipated writing – his Holmes would have ended his own life before becoming the shadow of a man that McKellan’s portrayal is.

That’s not to say any of it is McKellan’s fault, in fact he exact opposite is true. McKellan is the saving grace of the film. The flashbacks to him as a younger, copacetic Holmes make me clamour for more; and there’s a real “devilishness” to his portrayal – recalling the sometimes manic behavious of Jeremy Brett’s interpretation – which I instantly warmed to. Ultimately I’d much rather see McKellan in a feature length adventure as Holmes rather than another Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr. collaboration.

In the end, Mr. Holmes looks and feels very much like a Sunday evening terrestrial television drama; and that’s probably the best place to catch this movie… Save you money and wait till it comes to the BBC (whose film arm produced this).

Mr. Holmes is releaased on DVD and Blu-ray on October 26th.


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