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6: Film Review Of 'Mr. Holmes'

July 17, 2015 11:16 a.m.

Film Review of "Mr. Holmes," starring Sir Ian McKellan. Also check out the 1996 archive interview with him available on Cinema Junkie.


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: Sherlock Holmes’ popularity continues to rise with a play at the Globe, more of the BBC series in the wings, and now Ian McKellan takes on the role of the great detective for the feature film, Mr. Holmes. KPBS film critic Beth Accomando says it offers yet another reinvention of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character.

TAG: Mr. Holmes opens this weekend in select San Diego theaters.

Sherlock Holmes is renowned for his great mind and facility for deduction. Through Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories and numerous films, TV shows, and plays the great detective displayed keen observation, shrewd reasoning, and a willingness to think outside the box. But what happens when that mind starts to fail.

CLIP That night I searched for something to jog my memory of the actual case and there it was. A picture. A few years ago I could have told you everything about the woman in that photograph. Certainly I’d recall if she was victim or culprit but that night all I knew for certain was that case was my last and that was why I left the profession.

The film Mr. Holmes is based on Mitch Cullin’s novel A Slight Trick of the Mind. It sets up a narrative that contrasts the aging Holmes with the detective in his prime. The result is a fresh take on a familiar character with a stellar performance by Ian McKellan. But this isn’t the only contrast it explores. There is also an exploration of the private versus the public Holmes. Dr. Watson created a literary Holmes that creates certain expectations for people.

CLIP My mother is wondering if you brought your hat… That

But of course there is the added irony that the real versus the fictional Holmes has another layer, since both are creations of Conan Doyle. And the final element to this elegant little puzzle box is that the famous sleuth is investigating the mystery of his own emotions, emotions that he had dismissed as pointless for the majority of his life.

The game’s afoot yet again and surprisingly Mr. Holmes finds a fresh and even poignant way for us to view the great detective.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.