A quiet film of dignity, intelligence, wit and surprise, "Mr. Holmes" is an oasis from the loud action popcorn movies of summer. Ian McKellen plays an elderly version of a retired Sherlock Holmes living by the sea and tending to his honey bees. And of course, he is absolutely terrific.
As his memories start to fade with age, Holmes struggles to remember details of his last case, which we see develop in flashbacks. He relates the facts of the case to young Roger (played by Milo Parker) who's mother is Holmes's housekeeper, Mrs. Munro. Laura Linney co-stars as Mrs. Munro and it's quite a successful departure for the talented actress.
This is a period film jumping between two earlier periods in time and Mr. McKellen doesn't miss a step or trick as the older and elderly versions of Holmes. His scenes with Roger are tender and witty and in the flashbacks, even as an older version of Sherlock Holmes, he does the character justice.
The film is directed by Bill Condon with a quiet elegance and yet a twinkle in his eye. The screenplay is by Jeffrey Hatcher, with a very different take on the famous detective, who ends up solving more than one mystery.
"Mr. Holmes" is a breath of fresh air and filled with simple pleasures, anchored by a wonderful Ian McKellen.