Mr. Holmes (2015)
After a lifetime of detective work, there's one mystery left to solve: his own.
With so many Sherlocks floating about, one could wonder what sets one Holmes apart from another Holmes. Sure, we have the "best batman movie ever" action-fiesta Holmes staring Iron Man, and we have the Cumberbatch Holmes, and of course modern-spin Holmes and old-fashioned Holmes. Of all the Holmes on the market though, I've only really noticed this one Old Holmes movie. Dress for success, and let's see if this old Holmes still got it.
Puns aside, this is another of those plot-focused sort of affairs, and in the interest of keeping most the drama intact I'd rather not go into too many details about things. That out of the way, there are actually quite a few (movie-wise) concurrent plots floating about (although they take place at different times chronologically). Our main story is that of an elderly Holmes as he tries to remember his last case - a task his old age is making incredibly difficult to complete. He struggles with it in such regards that he goes to the extent of trying things like Royal Jelly and even a particular plant that ties into another of his stories. It is in this story we also have the characters of his housekeeper and her son - the latter of which takes quite the liking to old Mr. Holmes. As our plot progresses, the two start to bond (much to the disapproval of his mother) as they care for his bees and the son inadvertently aids in his remembering of things.
In our second plot instance, a journey across the sees is required. This is largely in response to the aforementioned plant - one that grows in the bombed out areas of Hiroshima. The horrors of the end of the war crop up here and there, adding some emphasis to the rather morose atmosphere of the time, but even here isn't without it's own little mystery. We are treated to a dinner with the man he has come to meet and his mother as well as Holmes, where a short discussion occurs over Watson's somewhat fictional representation of Holmes' attire and habits. We also see some sampling of the (rather poor tasting) herb after they find it, as well as a mourning ritual of a Japanese man whose lost loved ones in the tragedy that befell Hiroshima. The story doesn't end there, however, as the man who has been met has his own secrets.
Our final story is that of the purposeful remembrance. It is the final case of Sherlock Holmes. There is something about the written version of the case that Holmes knows isn't correct, for if everything ended so happily and tidily there would have been no reason in which that would have been indeed his final case. He knows it is wrong, and has decided to write it down himself in the manner that it truly did happen - as long as he can remember it. Small things - A bee, a scent, a flower - will jog his memory as he goes (largely tying into the first plot), allowing him to add part by part of this story in which a man asks him to detect his wife, who he believes has been going to take glass harmonica lessons from a woman after he has forbidden it. Of course, the case is stranger than just that - the man originally recommended his wife take lessons after she lost two children before their birth to help deal with the depression, until it slowly seemed as though she might be wanting the lessons for different reasons. It's said the teacher may be some sort of "magic" practitioner, and he doesn't much like his wife talking to their dead children.
Overall, the plots all fit together quite well. Each isn't without it's little moments of developments - if not twists - as well as the characteristic deduction abilities most of us would associate with Sherlock Holmes. With the take on Holmes being quite old, it does cause a large amount of things to move much more slowly and methodically, as opposed to some of the more action and chase heavy Holmes of yesteryear. That being said, even with that pacing and largely lacking in overall action the movie never gives the feeling of boredom, keeping me relatively interested in where things are going or - at the very least - wondering just what happened in his last case. It really does keep you waiting till the end to find out as well.
The cast does a splendid job, even though there are a few times when the child actor is a bit hard to judge. This shouldn't be taken as "he's rubbish" or anything of that sort - indeed, I felt he did a rather believable and enjoyable job, it's more that occasionally his facial expression seems as though it might have changed a bit too subtle for myself to notice. This is particularly noticeable during his apology scene - so if you watch and get that far without getting the same feeling, then it's probably just me. As usual, good acting is pretty important for a drama - if they can't deliver those lines and interactions in a meaningful and believable way, then it really kills the drama itself, so it's good that these gears all clicked together.
There isn't a whole lot of fancy effects-work going on here. Costumes are period, which does help break from the norm of everyday modern attire, but nothing quite as lavish or outwardly interesting as the "fancier" kinds of period shows out there. The locales are well done, with Holmes' estate being particularly a peaceful and pleasant looking place, and the trip to Japan not trying to over or under sell the tragic bombing that took place. Even the main memory has interesting little things too look at - like a door that looks like a bookshelf - as it flows form scene to scene.
All in all, if you find yourself a Sherlock Holmes kind of person, I feel like you'd enjoy this take. It is based upon a story (mentioned in it's opening credits, although admittedly forgotten by me as I had not read it before and therefore for review purposes I couldn't add anything by remembering it), so how faithful it is could boost or dampen some folks enjoyment levels. Drama fans will enjoy it for it's well handled actors and inter-weaved plot navigation, but action fans might be a little less impressed by it's more slow and thought out pacing. As long as you don't go in it expecting a lot of Watson, you should have a pretty decent time.