REVIEW – Mr. Holmes (2015) is lonely

holmesmovie2Mr. Holmes (2015) is the tale of Sherlock Holmes in his twilight years, and it doesn’t really differ from the book, except in one major area.  The movie has been changed, altered by Hollywood to deliver a happy ending.  In the book, Sherlock Holmes is the perfect allegory for the lonely spirit, which is still present in the movie, but the ending stilts the overall message. 

The movie has trouble committing to the book’s message.  The movie is about a retired Sherlock Holmes living in Sussex with his bees, with only his housekeeper and her son around to keep him company.  Holmes becomes fond of young Roger, and is inspired to finish writing about his last tragic case.  The movie encourages making emotional connections, and favors good-feeling humanity over honesty and logic.  This notion contrasts the stone-faced Sherlock Holmes, which is why it works so well.

holmesmovie1The ending to the movie gives Sherlock Holmes a major out, not delivering the emotional punch of the book.  It simply does something else entirely.  Everyone is smiling and holding hands by the end of the movie.  Holmes and his housekeeper, Mrs. Munroe, walk through the garden like best pals.  It’s kinda silly.

Ian McKellen never does take enough time with his development to the happy ending.  Maybe it’s the script or something, but the transition(s) from one scene to the other to the happy ending felt a little off.  And the Japan scenes felt under-utilized.  

Sherlock Holmes visits Japan in 1947, and the script dodges any attempt to address the country’s post-war conditions.  There’s no room to be political in this movie, although a touch of human suffering is shown because of the BOMB (all caps), but not much.  Nobody asks why that woman is so scarred, or why those people are fighting over food.  

holmesmovie4Laura Linney as Mrs. Munroe does a good job with her part.  She plays the typical mother, and does the typical things.  She tells Roger to eat his breakfast like a good mother should, but seems cruel in other parts of the movie, burning all of Sherlock’s mail carte blanche.  Several times she throws in a few verbal digs.  The best scene for her character is when she speaks to Roger about his father, who died in the Great War.  This is a good scene, but it needed extra emotion, instead of being just a discussion about past memories.

Milo Parker as Roger does a fine job, but he’s not given a chance to show his range.  He’s pretty much the same even-keel, sharp-witted boy in every scene, even at the end.  There’s not much to say about him or his character.  However, one scene where he argues with his mother is very good and very well done.  

Overall, this was an average movie.  I enjoyed it because it’s Sherlock Holmes, my favorite character, and it brings something unique to the Great Detective.  Also, McKellen does good work, and seems to have done the best he can with the script.  If they could have taken a little more time here and there, I think the whole thing could have been better.  The message of emotion over logic tries to betray Holmes, and he never learns his lesson in the book, but he’s holding hands in the movie, so as to not make Sherlock Holmes a tragic character.