Mr Holmes

Film, Drama
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
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Mr Holmes

Sir Ian McKellen is a pleasure to watch as an elderly Sherlock Holmes, though the drama isn't as compelling as it might have been

In a poll of things we really don’t need to see at the cinema, another 'Sherlock Holmes’ is pretty high on the list. Benedict Cumberbatch’s on-the-spectrum TV Holmes and kid-in-a-sweet-factory Robert Downey Jr have got it all sewn up.

But make an exception for Ian McKellen, who plays the supersleuth as a cantankerous 93-year-old living by the seaside in Kent and keeping bees in this elegant, stately (yes slow) drama. It’s 1947, and Holmes’s famous intellect is failing. Before he loses his marbles completely he wants to uncover the details of the case that forced him into retirement 30 years ago. Holmes knows that Watson’s account only tells half the facts, but can’t for the life of him remember the rest. All he knows is that it involves a man who arrives at Baker Street to ask him to investigate his wife’s mysterious behaviour.

McKellen plays it beautifully, so graceful he barely looks like he’s trying. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Is he too twinkly a poppet for the arrogant Holmes? Possibly, but who knows what 30 years of beekeeping will do to a man. And he may well start a men’s fashion trend with his wardrobe here, all collarless white shirts and herringbone knitted waistcoats – ‘Sherlock chic’?

Just don’t go expecting a cracking whodunnit. This is more of a character study, and flashbacks to the 1919 case are only semi-successful. Sometimes, ‘Mr Holmes’ feels as woolly as the detective’s waistcoats.

By: Cath Clarke


Release details

Release date: Friday June 19 2015
Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Bill Condon
Screenwriter: Mitch Cullin
Cast: Ian McKellen
Colin Starkey
Laura Linney

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Adrian H

The heart-breaking portrayal of the legendary detective gently slipping into oblivion is masterfully handled by Sir Ian McKellen. At times the plot can be a little plodding but the sight of Holmes pottering around the green undulating hills of the English coastline is nonetheless endearing and the mystery at the heart of the film is engaging and satisfying.

Neil Gaiman once joked that Moriarty had retired to Essex to tend wasps - another story there perhaps! But for now we have Holmes and his bees, and the comforting thought that, behind those rheumy eyes, the light of Sherlock Holmes's mind brilliant mind has not yet dimmed.

Andy S

A highly enjoyable take on Sherlock Holmes with a stunning lead performance from Ian McKellen as a 93 year old detective living with the ghosts of his past. Stunning central performance that deserved an Oscar nod at the very least. Far better than the bombastic Downy Jr versions.  Well worth a look. Profound and moving....and an interesting lesson about bees!