In all of the incarnations of Sherlock Holmes, from the traditional to the more modern, one personality flaw is consistent. Sherlock has a personality disorder. He is often in his own world, has little tollerance for others and doesn’t really understand how offensive he can be. However, in Mr. Holmes, probably the 142st version of the myth, he has never appeared so human. That is not to say that Ian McKellen’s Sherlock isn’t without fault. He is self-obsessed as ever and bluntly speaks his mind, but it is the addition of ten-year-old Roger (Milo Parker) that brings out the older one’s charm. Mr. Holmes also presents a much older version of the sleuth than we are used to.
Based on the book, A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin and directed by Bill Condon, Mr. Holmes shows Sherlock as retired and is living in an old farmhouse in an isolated area in Sussex. The 93-year-old is a beekeeper of all things. Currently living in his residence is his fairy new housekeeper, Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her son Roger. Holmes is in poor health, though he denies it. His sharp memory is beginning to fail him and it appears that he will eventually die as a bitter old man. Of all the cases that he solved over the years, it was his last one that still haunts him for he feels that he failed the client despite what his friend, Dr. Watson, had wrote about it in his last book. Holmes desperately wants to retrace his steps to figure out what went wrong, but his memory comes and goes. He is constantly writing notes to help him remember things.
The movie is told partially in flashbacks where we get to see Holmes in action on his last case. The case involves Thomas Kelmot (Patrick Kennedy), a man who is suspicious of his wife Ann (Hattie Morahan) who appears to have a secret life and evil plans in store for her husband.
In the present, we get to see how Sherlock deals with fame and how annoyed he gets that people expect him to be the same man who wears the funny hat and smokes a pipe. Those were embellishments that Watson threw in his stories to add to inspector’s personality he says.
Sherlock is pestered a bit by Roger who thinks that the older man is fascinating, to the chagrin of his mother. She doesn’t trust Holmes for some reason and really doesn’t want to be working for him. Roger brings out the best in Sherlock and the two become close friends. It’s clear that each of them need each other.
Though some diehards will disagree, this story of Sherlock is, in my opinion, is flawless. Ian McKellen has never done better. The film is bittersweet. It is sad to see the super sleuth in his twilight years but it is heartwarming to see the budding friendship between him and the boy who will no doubt follow in his footsteps.