Mr. Holmes


Ian McKellen is near perfection in Bill Condon's imperfect film about an imperfect man, Mr. Holmes. McKellen plays both an aging and aged version of Sherlock Holmes, the famous late-Victorian era detective, wholly the invention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the film, Holmes has retreated to a cottage on the English coast where his sole companions are a housekeeper (beautifully portrayed by Laura Linney) and her precocious son (a remarkable Milo Parker). Holmes, in his 90s, has set for himself the frustrating task of correcting the published account of the last of Dr. Watson's tales of his adventures, which he, Holmes, says he did not actually solve but can't remember why. The detective's deteriorating mind is enlivened by his interactions with the admiring boy, whose curiosity and persistence Holmes finds endearing. In fact, the pairing of McKellen, who is nearly 80, and young master Parker, is this lovely picture's most enduring endearment. Sadly, though, at only 100 minutes, the picture feels rushed and truncated and the child's relationship with his mother (a counterpoint to his friendship with Holmes, which she resents) and the nature of Holmes's important journey to post-World War II Japan are left as, well, mysteries. Still Highly Recommended.

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