Mr. Holmes – A Movie Review

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.

 

In Regards To The Final Solution, My Apologies To Michael Chabon

I’ve deemed this summer one in which I will reread several books, and one of those book is in fact Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution.  I originally read this novelette sometime in early 2006 and subsequently wrote a scathing review (found here).  During the past seven years, I’ve remembered the book negatively and would not recommend it to others.  This hurt my heart because I tout Michael Chabon as one of America’s greatest living authors and hated to say anything disparaging about him.

I am a fool.

As I reread this book, I am embarrassed, ashamed, and, perhaps most importantly, humbled.

You see, though I’m only half finished with the slender book, I’ve already come to a startling realization about the book’s protagonist, one I never before realized and one that is incredibly significant.  How I didn’t make this deduction seven years ago is beyond me, especially considering I deal with literature and writing regularly in my professional life.  Were I a prouder man, I wouldn’t even reveal this to you.

But wait, let’s see if you can figure it out: the story takes place in 1944 England and features a very old, retired detective.  This detective was once the toast of England, renowned for his brilliance and adventures.  He smokes a pipe, wears an Inverness, and uses a magnifying glass.  Have you solved it?  Yes!  Though only referred to as “the old man” throughout the novelette, he is clearly supposed to be Sherlock Holmes!

I have no idea why I didn’t consider this out upon my first reading, but the book is so much more enjoyable if making this assumption.  So, though I’m not quite done with my rereading, I assure you, it’s thus far a wildly entertaining read if you keep “the old man’s” true identity in mind!