“One shouldn’t leave this life without a sense of completion.” (Mr Holmes, 2015)
As a keen Holmes fan, I have read the books and watched countless different portrayals of the famous sleuth on the screen, so to hear a film made about the latter years of Sherlock Holmes’ life intrigued me. As a lot of Holmes readers would know, is that Holmes retired as a Beekeeper in Devon, but we don’t really know a lot else. But thankfully, a new film from Bill Condon (currently directing the live-action version of ‘Beauty and the Beast’) is to complete the story, and answer all of our questions. When Ian McKellen was announced to play Sherlock Holmes, it was hard to think of any other actor who could step into such big shoes than McKellen, and in these clips, he looks to be the most interesting Holmes yet. It begins with a voice over of Holmes narrating, telling the events from his own perspective than Doctor Watson’s. Though absent from the trailer and apparently from Holmes’ life, he mentions how Watson would have told his story “with his imagination.” Now freed to tell his own, Holmes almost immediately challenges every idea and image of The Sherlock Holmes, dismissing the deerstalker for a less ostentatious top hat, and even admits to not using the pipe, “I prefer a cigar.” offering the first idea of one of the film’s themes: identity.
So when a troubled husband, worried about his wife, seeks Sherlock Holmes expertise, it takes Holmes on a unexpected journey, reflecting on his past as he investigates the present. It again suggests Holmes coming to terms with his own and his very public identity. Holmes sets out to try and understand human nature but realises that not just logic can reveal that. The trailer teases a portrayal of Holmes as the most vulnerable and insecure we have ever seen him, even bypassing Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s modern adaptation. Far from the confident and often cold detective, McKellen’s Holmes is older and confides in a young boy, Roger, played by Milo Parker, who fills a Watson shaped hole in the trailer.
“I must have done something terribly wrong.” (Mr Holmes, 2015)
Not only that, but we witness a startling admission from Holmes in failing a case, reminding us that Sherlock Holmes does have a heart and with that, making a very human story. With gorgeous music swelling up through the trailer, it charges up the emotion, with more references to Holmes’ past, in my opinion, that involves Watson and his other cases. The trailer also hints as to why Holmes secluded himself to Devon, away from society and Watson, with Holmes constantly deducing his own past and regrets, “I chose exile, but what was it for?”
The direction of this film appears to be done exceedingly well so far, the period locations in London and Devon are framed beautifully and lush with a British summer, (no sinister London fog in sight here.) The supporting cast also looks promising, with Laura Linney as Mrs Munro who appears to play a central role in Holmes and his journey, and to see Frances de le Tour appear in anything is always a good sign.
“Watson wrote the story, but he changed the ending.” (Mr Holmes, 2015)
This is not the first time Holmes has been revealed to be a unreliable narrator. In the novel and in the film based on it, ‘The Seven-Percent Solution’ (1976) Holmes addiction to cocaine leads Watson to place Holmes in the hands of Sigmund Freud, revealing that his nemesis Professor Moriarty, is just a figment of his deluded imagination. It appears both films wanted to take Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s wonderful stories and add deeper context to it. However, ‘Mr Holmes’ interpretation appears, to me, to be the most truest to the original text and with that, I am very eager to see the results. Holmes delves deeper into the mystery of a wife but instead encounters a far bigger mystery: The Case of Sherlock Holmes.
‘Mr Holmes’ is due to be released in UK cinemas on July 19th.
Written by Rhosyn Roberts