In the new movie called MR. HOLMES, actor Ian McKellen plays Sherlock Holmes as a lonely old man with severe memory loss. The famous detective is known for his intelligent use of rational analysis to solve the most difficult crimes. But he’s somewhat lacking when it comes to human emotion. And this well acted but very slow movie shows how, at the end of his life, Holmes comes to understand the importance of love and empathy.
Man: My mother wonders if you have brought your famous hat.
Sherlock: I’ve never worn one.
Man: And the pipe?
Sherlock: I prefer a cigar.
This is not Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock. Instead, Ian McKellen plays the aged sleuth as a real person frustrated by the misconceptions the public has been given by the stories written about him. But a greater problem is that 30 years into retirement, his memory problems are so bad he can’t remember the details of his last case, a case he couldn’t solve because he failed to understand the loneliness and despair of the woman he was investigating.
And now, as a bee keeper, the only person he can really talk to is the son of his housekeeper.
Sherlock (to the boy): A few years ago, I could have told you everything about the woman in that photograph (I found in the desk). Certainly, I would recall what had become of her whether she was victim or culprit. But that night I couldn’t remember any of it.
Every now and then he does remember part of the case and writes it down. The boy Roger, played by Milo Parker, is a fan and loves reading whatever the great man writes.
Roger: A man comes to Baker street and you say you’ve come about your wife. How can you tell?
Sherlock: When you’re a detective and a man comes to see you, it’s usually about his wife.
Before Sherlock is able to piece together memory fragments of the failed case, he doesn’t even try to relate to his housekeeper played by Laura Linney, even when she talks to him about Roger.
Sherlock: Exceptional children are often the product of unremarkable parents.
There are several problems with the movie in addition to its slow pace. Ian Holmes, the actor, is 76. His character is 93 and looks it. But when we flash back to 30 years before, McKellen looks too old.
There is also an unnecessary subplot about a broken Japanese family. Still, the basic concept of Sherlock Holmes finally becoming more of a human being is reason enough to see the movie.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.