Monday, January 23, 2017

Movie Monday: Mr. Holmes

Two weeks ago, with our 22-year old son home for a rare evening with us, the three of us chose a movie, Mr. Holmes (tough to find one we all agree on!). It's about an elderly Sherlock Holmes, struggling with dementia and trying to recall his last case.

As the movie opens, Holmes, played by Ian McKellen (aka Gandolf), is returning to a bucolic cottage in the country from a trip to Japan. He is elderly now and is struggling with memory loss; in fact, he traveled to Japan in search of an old folk remedy. He lives at the cottage alone but has the help of a housekeeper, played by Laura Linney, who lives next door. Her young son, Roger (played by Milo Parker), is intrigued by Holmes and has been reading the stories of his mysteries that Watson wrote. Holmes is a bit of a grumpy old man here, and focused solely on his memory problems, but he gradually grows fond of Roger.

Holmes is trying to recall and write down the details of his last case, the case that led him to retire, and the woman who was at the center of it. Bit by bit, often agonizing over his inability to remember, Holmes writes the story of this case, as small momentos or other clues bring back memories of what happened. So, while the movie is taking place in the present, where Holmes is elderly, some scenes go back to the past, recreating that last case and the woman whose memory haunts Holmes.

This film was different than we expected - with its older, gentler, struggling Holmes - but all three of us ended up enjoying both its drama and its mystery. There are hints of the classic Sherlock Holmes, both as he recalls that last case and also as he confronts a small, present-day mystery that affects Roger. Meanwhile, we watch the relationship between Holmes and Roger grow and become significant to both of them.

It was an enjoyable and intriguing movie, a quiet mystery wrapped in a family-type drama about aging, with greater emotional depth than we first expected. The actors were all excellent, and the story kept us guessing.

Mr. Holmes is out on DVD and is currently available for free on Amazon Prime (link below) or on Netflix DVD only.

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