Mr. Holmes

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

I've been a minor Sherlock Holmes fan for about a half-century now, and I'm kind of a sucker for various efforts to leech (heh) off his continuing popularity. For the record, I didn't much care for reinventing Holmes as an action hero; I watch Elementary, which is OK, but often doesn't play fair with the viewer; I like the mind-twisting Cumberbatchian Sherlock quite a bit.

In comparison, this movie deals with a near-canon Holmes, portrayed masterfully by Ian McKellan. It's set in a universe where the stories were written by Dr. Watson, not A.C. Doyle. It takes place mostly in 1947, when the great detective has long been retired (in Watson's words) "living the life of a hermit among your bees and your books in a small farm upon the South Downs." There are three intertwined plot threads: (1) Holmes' interaction with the young son of his current housekeeper (played by a near-unrecognizable Laura Linney); (2) flashbacks to his recent trip to Japan to retrieve "prickly ash", said to assist in maintaining mental acuity in the aging; (3) which he needs to try to untangle exactly what happened years ago in the case that led to his retirement: a wayward wife's inexplicable obsession with lessons on the armonica.

In the latter two, of course: Not All Is As It Seems. Holmes' efforts are complicated by his failing memory; he keeps track of really important stuff by making notes on his shirt cuffs.

No crimes. Still fun, though.