Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Spirit of the Beehives

Mr. Holmes (2015) is a lovely little movie, quiet and thoughtful. I wish I could say I love it more than I did.

It stars Ian McKellen, as Sherlock Holmes, now ninety and retired to the country to keep bees. He seems to have a good life, but he is losing his memory and it bothers him - he started keeping bees on the theory that royal jelly could improve mental sharpness. He has a rather prickly housekeeper (Laurie Linney) whose young son dotes on Mr. Holmes and helps him with the hives. It's not clear what grudge the housekeeper has against Holmes: doesn't she trust him with her son? Maybe she doesn't like him playing with bees.

Holmes remembers that he retired because of his last case - but he can't remember why. As he remembers the story, he writes it down and the boy reads it in secret. These memories and others both oppress Holmes and support him, and in the end he learns something about people that he never understood when his mind was sharp.

This is all fine, although it makes him a little more ordinary and less of a miraculous freak. It didn't have much of that spark of genius that makes Holmes so fascinating. In fact, it makes him more human and a little boring. So I was a little disappointed. Also, no Watson - he has passed away by the time of this movie.

But that might not be reasonable. There was a mystery or three, they were resolved ingeniously, if not always in the old-fashioned way. And needless to say, Ian McKellan is a joy as Sherlock. So I was glad we watched but not blown away. But I did like the bees.

1 comment:

mr. schprock said...

"So I was glad we watched but not blown away." Sums it up for me too.