How can you go wrong making a movie around the character of the iconic Sherlock Holmes starring Ian McKellan and Laura Linney (both Oscar nominated actors)? Mr. Holmes, the film opens with scenery of Sussex. The landscape photography here alone with the smoke of the train engine the only thing breaking the solitude of the immense miles of the emerald English Countryside takes one in. We are off to a good start.
The story- no spoiler here if you have seen the trailers - takes place in 1947 when Mr. Holmes has retired to his Sussex country home some 35 years after his career as the world renown sleuth. He has become a curmudgeon. There is no love loss either with his housekeeper, Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney). But her very bright and quite precocious son, Roger (Milo Parker) is quite curious about him.
Holmes is grappling with the issues of old age - the slowing of the body and one's memory. His last case 35 years prior still haunts him as unsolved. He cannot remember the details and will not rest until he can solve it.
The story runs and stumbles between points of keen interest when we learn of Holmes' background, when we see the interesting relationship between he and Mrs. Munro. The characters of the two are brought to the screen with a life one would expect of such seasoned actors. However, there are times the story lags. There are times you want to know more. There are times you feel you could have known less.
Linney plays the burdened sullen Mrs. Munro brilliantly, never showing any joy. And McKellan plays Holmes as if he were indeed the old man we loved so much in the books of Author Conan Doyle. But it is the brilliant work of Parker who pulls it all together and keeps the story going. His naive youthful curiosity and desire to help tugs and pulls Holmes along. He brings the twinkle back to his eye. Without Parker's questions, prodding, and support Holmes most likely would have floundered into his dotage, never having the answer to his nagging question. Parker keeps the story afloat and is the string that ends up tying it into a nice package.
As we walked out of the theater, I was a bit disappointed. It was if I needed more or less. I'm not sure what, but something was afoot. McKellan's Holmes was superb, Linney played Munro bringing forth more unspoken dialogue from her character than script. Parker was a nice surprise, a sprite in the British gloom. The story was enjoyable. But it just stumbled through the 104 minutes as if looking for its footing.
I still enjoyed the film and recommend it. Just keep in mind, like Holmes in his older years, the film is also not in its prime.