Sherlock Homes is 93 - as his memory fades, will Holmes find his last case quite so elementary?
An aged Sherlock Holmes (McKellen) has retired to a country cottage where, instead of criminals, bee-keeping occupies his time. His housekeeper, Mrs. Monroe (Laura), wants to leave but her young son Roger (Milo) is a huge Sherlock fan. What happens when Holmes teaches Roger about keeping bees - while losing his memories?
Mr. Holmes is an ironic new spin on iconic Sherlock Holmes which, instead of a deerstalker, raises a wry old eyebrow at the best-selling brand of Baker Street. Ian McKellen's creaking antique Holmes, a direct contrast to Robert Downey Jr's sexily pouting, super-athletic Sherlock, underlines a real man, as wheezy as an old harmonium. The veteran McKellen is superb as Sherlock, trailing his own memory, luminescent when he remembers, growling when he can't. Laura Linney puts on a lovely, lemony Mrs. Monroe, softly sweet but troubled by her own memories. As young Roger, who lives in the bright sunshine of now, Milo walks a dramatic tightrope with flawless, natural ease, fascinated by a legend, then appreciating a fragile old man.
Alongside wonderful acting, the cinematography captures an enchantingly pretty country, lush green gardens, busy London streets, towering white cliffs, winding steamy trains. The editing, cutting from 1947 to 1917, is swift, but the narrative is actually too rich - a Japan track detracts from Holmes' last case, involving a mysterious Mrs. Kelmot (Hattie) and her suspicious husband (Patrick). Holmes' time travelling is excellent - McKellen presents a crisp, dapper Sherlock, from whose body 30 years fall neatly away, donning tails and top hat to stalk London with elegant determination. Had the narrative only moved across time, not continents, the impact of such acting would be far greater.
However, the philosophy of this tale, inspired by the novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, charms. At the end of his career, his powers fading, Holmes faces his greatest challenge. Having always dismissed emotions while underlining "Logic is rare", Holmes now needs love to crack his last case.
Why? Elementary, really.