As a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, I was very much looking forward to this movie. Unfortunately, over here in Austria, they had us wait quite a while until they finally released it to the cinemas – but at least, from my point of view, it was worth the wait. What you should know beforehand, though, is that Mr. Holmes acts quite differently here from how we’re used to. It seems he got a little – and for his character rather unusually and surprisingly – sentimental in his old age. Personally, I didn’t have a problem with that; at least it was something new, and showed a different side to him than what we usually get to see in depictions of this literal figure. However, purists might disagree.
One of my favorite things about “Mr. Holmes” is that it shows one of the most brilliant (fictional) minds struggling with a disease that slowly takes away from him exactly that what distinguished him from the rest: His mind. Losing your memories and your mind to a disease like Alzheimer’s is no fun to anyone, but it must be especially difficult in his case, since he took so much pride in his intelligence, his knowledge, and his skills to observe and deduce. Thus, I really felt for him during his struggle. I also liked that in his old days, he’s actually learning a new life lesson, and has to acknowledge that truth, sometimes, isn’t everything. And I really liked the friendship that emerges between him and Roger, the little boy, and son to Mrs. Munro, who owns the place in which he stays. As expected, Ian McKellen is great in the role, and up to the task of portraying Sherlock Holmes at two very different, but pivotal, stages of his life. The rest of the cast is equally great; I especially enjoyed Laura Linney’s performance, but Milo Parker was really good, too. And even though it might not have been the most complicated, exciting and/or intriguing case of his career, I also liked the investigation that Mr. Holmes struggles to remember, and which offers one of the rare occasions where he, in a way, failed. However, two flaws prevented this from being even better. As my good friend Bernhard, a long time fan of Sherlock Holmes himself, pointed out afterwards, it would have been nice if Sherlock would have had to use his skills in an unusual way, namely to deduce what actually happened back then. Instead, it just simply comes to him in dreams, memories, sudden flashbacks etc. That was a wasted opportunity. And, kinda related: Going in I expected a different movie, since I thought that Mr. Holmes would have to use his ailing skills one last time to solve a case – which isn’t really what “Mr. Holmes” is about. And while I usually try to not let my expectations interfere with my opinion of a movie, in this case I think I would have liked my initial thoughts of what this movie would be a little bit more than what we ultimately got. Overall, though, these are minor criticisms that only marginally detracted from my enjoyment of the movie.