Film Review: Mr Holmes

Mr Holmes

Bill Condon’s Mr Holmes is more of a drama than a mystery. After a slow start, the film does engage to a certain extent.

Retired to the countryside, an ageing and ailing Sherlock Holmes looks back on his life. Holmes is haunted by an unsolved 30-year old case, and struggles to recall the details which made him retire all those years ago…

Mr Holmes features the infamous detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle, although in a different depiction than the audience will be used. Gone is the sharp detective about town, replaced by a frail older gentlemen. Rather than the acutely intelligent Sherlock Holmes of the stories, this detective has a failing memory.

The film takes place in the 1940s, but there are several lengthy flashbacks throughout. The two main stories that the film features provide the mystery element of proceedings. Mr Holmes eschews the detective story that some may expect, instead offering a drama about an ageing man looking back at his life.

The two stories that Holmes struggles to recall are told in multiple flashback sequences. Depicted in this fashion, there is enough mystery to keep viewers engaged, although the film never enthrals. As the film progresses, however, these tales do not entwine. This makes the narrative less neat, but perhaps this is the point. Mr Holmes is more about feelings and ageing than mystery.

Mr Holmes is the story of an elderly man, and functions as a fable on the mortality of man, the fallacy of memory and the significance of emotion. The unsolved case is not a failure as such; it works as a device to give the protagonist an understanding of frailty and the importance of other forms of intelligence beyond logic.

The period setting is aided by a real attention to detail. Ian McKellan delivers a strong performance as Holmes. Laura Linney and Milo Parker provide good support as Mrs Munro and Roger.

Mr Holmes may disappoint those hoping for a mystery in the style of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Nevertheless, it is a competent drama.

Mr Holmes is available to download from 12th October, and is out on DVD and Blu-Ray from 26th October 2015.

Previews: Jurassic World Trailer, Inside Out Clip and more

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the latest Jurassic World trailer, a clip from Inside Out, plus Black Mass, Danny Collins and more…

Jurassic World Trailer

Steven Spielberg returns to executive produce the next instalment of his dinosaur franchise. This Jurassic World trailer reveals a little more about the plot of the film and its new dinosaurs. Although genetically-modified dinosaurs may raise eyebrows, the casting of Chris Pratt certainly does appeal following his turn in Guardians of the Galaxy. Jurassic World  will hit UK screens on 11th June 2015.

Black Mass

My, doesn’t Johnny Depp look different? Black Mass focuses on Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger and his unlikely alliance with the FBI in the 1970s. The film also stars Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch and Kevin Bacon. Back Mass is set for release on 25th September 2015.

Mad Max: Fury Road Legacy Trailer

This retro Mad Max: Fury Road trailer is smart marketing. It differentiates the film from other remakes, a key factor in this is the return of director George Miller. Starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road steams into UK cinemas on 14th May 2015.

Inside Out Clip

The more I see of Inside Out, the more I am looking forward to it. Featuring the voices of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling, the film focuses on Riley and her fluctuating emotions growing up. Inside Out is screening at Cannes Film Festival this May, and will be released in 24th July 2015.

Danny Collins Trailer

Danny Collins stars Al Pacino as an ageing rock star who goes on a journey to rediscover his family and himself. Based on a true story, the film also stars Annette Bening, Christopher Plummer and Jennifer Garner. Danny Collins will be released on UK screens on 29th May 2015.

Mr Holmes Trailer

Mr Holmes features an older version of the infamous detective than is usually portrayed on screen. Ian McKellan plays Sherlock Holmes as a returned detective, living in his farmhouse, who turns his attention to an unsolved case. Also starring Laura Linney, Mr Holmes is set for release on 19th June 2015.

Man Up Clip

Man Up is a new romantic comedy starring Simon Pegg and Lake Bell. The film is premised on a case of mistaken identity; Pegg’s Jack thinks Bell’s Nancy is his blind date. Also starring Olivia Williams and Rory Kinear, Man Up reaches UK cinemas on 29th May 2015.

Suffragette Trailer

This first trailer for Suffragette offers us a peak at Sarah Gavron’s historical drama. Suffragette is the first feature film to tell the story of British women’s fight for the right to vote at the turn of last century. With an enviable cast that includes Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan, Suffragette is set for release on 30th October 2015.

Summer Blockbuster Montage

Every year, film journalist Amon Warmann creates a montage of the Summer movie blockbusters. This year’s video features Mad Max: Road Fury, Ant-Man, Tomorrowland – A World Beyond and more. Check out his blog here.

Film Review: Hyde Park on Hudson

Viewers that have seen the trailer for Hyde Park on Hudson will know exactly what to expect. Although the film boasts great costumes, art direction and performances, it lacks anything more substantial than this.

Margaret Suckley is invited to spend time with her distant relative, Franklin D Roosevelt, President of America. As their friendship develops, the President is engaged with the forthcoming visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England, who are due to spend the weekend at Hyde Park on Hudson…

Everything moves along pleasantly in Hyde Park on Hudson, but without any real purpose. There is some humour in Roger Michell’s film, but a lack of strong dramatic moments. This means the narrative plods along rather. The film takes a steady course, with no real change in emotion or tension. There is a distinct lack of peaks in the narrative. The problem with this is that the crux that the final third depends on goes with a whimper rather than a bang.

Hyde Park on Hudson functions as The King’s Speech 2. There is a surprising amount of time given to Bertie and Elizabeth, given that the focus of the film revolves around the relationship between Franklin and Margaret. Franklin D. Roosevelt is such an interesting character, but this film offers a snippet of a brief period in his life rather than a biopic.

Bill Murray, Laura Linney and Olivia Williams all offer great performances. The film has sumptuous visuals and the feel of a polished period piece. The score is entirely in keeping with the style of the film.

The film certainly looks the part, and the performances lead to the expectation of something more. Hyde Park on Hudson is let down by the absence of a gripping narrative.

Hyde Park on Hudson is being screened at the London Film Festival in October 2012.