Mr. Holmes

Like The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), this adaptation of Mitch Cullin’s novel A Slight Trick of the Mind purports to show the real man behind the legendary sleuth, and as in those movies, the scenes focused on character are more striking than the obligatory detective tale. Now 93, Holmes (Ian McKellen) returns from a trip to postwar Japan with an organic medicine he hopes will halt his accelerating memory loss; confined to a little house in Sussex where he tends to his bees, he forms a grandfatherly attachment with a little boy (Milo Parker) whose intelligence outstrips that of his worried, widowed mother (Laura Linney). Flashbacks to an unsolved case some 30 year earlier give director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) room to show Holmes back when the game was still afoot, but the movie resonates most as a story of approaching death—the only mystery our hero can’t solve.