Sherlock Holmes and Ian McKellen is surely a match made in Heaven.
McKellen’s charm is on full display as he plays one of literature’s greatest analytical thinkers. He perfectly captures Holmes’ wit, his intellect, his brazenness, and even his repressed guilt.
There is a catch in this version, however. Holmes is 93 and suffering from memory loss. He wants to set the record straight about his real persona and is therefore striving to write his account of events in opposition to Watson’s, but he simply can’t recall all the facts. For a man like Holmes, this is torture.
Now living in the countryside and tending bees, Holmes relies on his housekeeper and her young precocious son to run the property. Three plots ensue – Holmes desperately trying to recount his last case, one that drove him into seclusion. Another is a mysterious plant he needs to restore his powers of recollection and the man providing it. Still another involves the young boy living on his property, and the unlikely bond they develop.
This film is very much a character driven piece. The main character is 93, so it never moves very quickly, but don’t let that fool you. McKellen brilliantly depicts a man accustomed to outsmarting every challenge imaginable, and the horror behind his eyes is potent as he realizes this is one feat he can’t overcome.
The climax is an engaging one – there are no big action scenes. But that moment, the moment a man disconnected from a world he very much intellectually dominated finally joins it on an emotional level – McKellen will leave a lasting impression, I assure you.
Though the movie is subdued and quiet, the scenery is beautiful, the acting is superb, the characterization is fascinating, the mystery is legitimate, and the story is ultimately satisfying.