Posted by : Stephanie | July 27, 2015
Damnit! Every time I get excited about a movie it goes all wrong. I thought Inside Out would be hilarious; I thought the Amy Winehouse movie would be a thoughtful tribute; I thought Ex Machina would be a cool cyborg romp; I thought that one Hugh Laurie movie was supposed to be him playing Charles Dickens.
Et tu, Ian McKellen? Jeez this long long long loooooooong movie is such a bummer. It’s like that movie I avoided like the plague, Still Alice, you know the tour de force Alzheimer’s one with Julianne Moore? The one that sounded like I would cry my face off if I went to it? Well I got Aliced watching Mr. Holmes! I dragged my mom and sister. Two of us were not amused, and we were so hoping to be!
Okay my mom liked it, but she’s more like Porcupine: The kind of people who like touching, slow, artsy Oscar movies and foreign films. My tastes, if we’re not talking glorious New Zealand vampire mockumentaries, run more demanding of instant gratification. Not in a Millennial way but more in a Gen X everything isn’t awesome way, a proto-MTV way.
And so I was ill prepared for end-of-life Holmes. A Holmes wracked with age and infirmity. And a Holmes story that’s anything other than the jaunty ride through crime telling that I expected, nay, demanded.
The film is a triptych of more spry old Holmes, old old Holmes, and Japan Holmes. He struggles Reagan-like to keep his grip on his former greatness. He’s banished himself to a country home run by housekeeper Laura Linney and the world’s most precious pre-tween, actor Milo Parker, her son. Holmes is preoccupied with remembering his last case, with bee keeping, and with an exotic Japanese herb that’s supposed to help his memory.
The last case will help him remember why he’s out in the country, the bee keeping anchors him to humans in his present, and the Japanese herb tethers him to a B or C plot with a Japanese family that’s a post script to his last case. Plus the bees are a foreshadowing: If you show a bee gun in act one, then the hive better go off by act three.
Hilariously, though, the film wasn’t going to get away with any bee keeping plot shenanigans with my apiarist sister watching. She was oh hell no about a thing or two. And yours truly, a Harry Potter aficionado, wasn’t going to let actress Frances de la Tour go about her muggle business without mentioning her illustrious heritage as a former giantess headmistress of Beauxbatons Academy!
Here’s the stuff we had trouble with: First of all, we’re not sure how old Ian McKellen is. Is he closer in real life to the resplendent silver fox flashbacks, surely, and not the older older Holmes? That is to say, which him required the most makeup? We weren’t sure. That’s how genius he is!
We also wanted to know about the plot. I’m having trouble with the Hiroshima herb subplot. Mr. Holmes travels to Hiroshima with a man who assures him that this herb has memory healing powers. They go to ruinous Hiroshima and pick it out of the rubble. Well look, Sherlock Holmes is a genius botanist scientist everything! He would SURELY surmise that eating an herb from a radioactive site wouldn’t be good for him, them picking plants while burned face people wander ghostly around. Oh no. No way. He takes this herb everyday at home and gets sicker for it.
And my sister was like oh hell no regarding the boy and the bees. The boy is beset by bees as the hive swarms. But my expert sister says bees don’t bite when they’re swarming. They are at their most docile. I myself, terrified of bees, had this verified to me when I bravely and gallantly allowed her to put a boy bee on me. He was a sweet bee indeed.
And upon this plot point I too was like oh hell no because Sherlock Holmes would have immediately deduced that the stings on the boy’s body didn’t have stingers in them, as he mentions earlier, thus he would have instantly not suspected the bees but the wasps. But it takes him a scene or three to figure this out.
Now you may say that these plot points are on purpose, illustrative of the mental decline of Mr. Holmes. But I don’t sense this is subtlety; it’s a preoccupied plot point. Because ultimately Mr. Holmes is a male Still Alice, more about the journey of the human than the glory of the character. But Sherlock Holmes isn’t a human, he’s a character. And by that logic, his stories should all be rompy detectivey. It’s like when the Batman franchise got super serious with the lust of my life, Christian Bale. Batman is a comicbook hero. His movies should be more of the Tim Burton ilk. That’s my Cat Woman opinion!
So you might be more like my mom and Porcpuine for whom this distillation of character into mere mortal might please. But for me it’s a total bummer. Except for watching Ian McKellen act for two hours. That I could do anytime, anywhere, in anything.
RATING: 2 of 4 Deerstalker Hats That YES HE WORE! Pls not debunk!