Saturday, July 25, 2015
Mr Holmes review: Ian McKellen magnificent as Sherlock in close to perfect story
It is 1947 and Holmes (Ian McKellen) is 93, living in obscurity on the Sussex coast. Dr Watson has long since left to marry. The stout housekeeper, Mrs Munro (Laura Linney) takes cares of his daily needs, while nursing her own bereavement. Two wars have left their marks. Her 10-year-old son Roger (Milo Parker) is all she has – and he thinks she's a bit thick.
Part of the film is the love story between man and boy, but it is not steeped in treacle. Roger is clever and fascinated by the fame and secrets of Mr Holmes, whose attic study is off-limits. The gruff Holmes likes his boldness, and his hard edge of intellect. He reminds Sherlock of himself. Both he and the boy are capable of being beastly towards "Mrs M". She worries about their friendship, which forms around Sherlock's beehives. Roger helps him to make royal jelly, from the secretions that worker bees use to create queens.
The second layer is about the great man's attempt to write the true story of his last case, before he loses his faculties. The royal jelly is supposed to slow the loss of memory...