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Mr. Holmes - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Mr. Holmes
Directing: B
Acting: B+
Writing: B
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B

Ian McKellen is that rare actor who became a movie star at the age of 61, after a long and acclaimed career up to that point. Even in Gods and Monsters, arguably his breakout role in 1998 (Gods and Monsters), he was old -- or so he seemed at the time; he turned 59 that year. Since then, he's been in four X-Men movies and six J.R.R. Tolkien adaptations -- the latter being among the highest grossing films of all time.

We're now closing in on two decades since Gods and Monsters, fifteen since he first appeared as Magneto in the original X-Men and McKellen is 76 years old. He's still charming and, in terms of acting ability, as limber as ever. We can only hope he lasts at least as long as the late, great Christopher Lee did, in which case he's got still another good decade and a half.

Perhaps the upside of 76 is the ease with which he can appear much older, or at least more decrepit, in film -- as he does in Mr. Holmes, in which he plays an aging Sherlock Holmes, bonding with a young boy, Roger (Milo Parker), whose mother, Mrs. Munro (the always lovely Laura Linney) works as his housekeeper.

It doesn't take long to appreciate the meta aspects of Mr. Holmes, in which Holmes laments the fictional liberties Watson (a character never fully seen and never heard here) with the books he wrote about their investigations together. Sherlock Holmes is, of course, actually a fictional character, and McKellen is playing an elderly version of him not written by the original Arthur Canon Doyle -- Mr Holmes is based on the 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin.

Here, Holmes is so far aged he is losing his memory -- most frustrating for him, as he lives in this beachside cottage still trying to piece together what he did wrong to cause his final case to come to a tragic end. He writes it out as a story in installments for Roger, whose mother worries about him getting attached to such an old man who by definition cannot be around for very long.

Considering the most action this movie gets involves Holmes's beekeeping hobby, Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes this is not. Not that that's a bad thing; there have been zillions of Sherlock Holmes stories told, some far better than others. Mr. Holmes falls just above the middle. It's pleasant enough.

It's especially so for audiences close to McKellen's age -- this is the type of movie where you find a lot of senior citizens in the theatre. They're not exactly the single target demographic, but generally speaking, if you're old, you'll enjoy this movie. You'll also be fine waiting to watch it on TV or Netflix in a couple of months. There's nothing movie-theatre vital about this movie, especially if you've got mobility issues. Okay, maybe you just like to get out once in a while. This'll do for that.

To be sure, there is something to be said for this unique look at the Sherlock Holmes character -- a rare feat after the number of times he has appeared onscreen. Here we see McKellen's Holmes going to the movie theatre to watch a film adaptation of one of Watson's books, and sniffing at the lapses in logic regarding how the case is cracked in the film.

McKellen is the perfect choice for this role, a man who is grumpy yet approachable, while slowly resigning himself to the steady deterioration of his memory. The story told here actually isn't as grim as that makes it sound. Neither is it thrilling or groundbreaking, but between the lovely cast across the board, and the idyllic coastal scenery, Mr. Holmes still makes for a nice enough time at the movies.

Ian McKellen struggles with age and investigation in MR. HOLMES.</a>

Overall: B
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