An intriguing, mysterious, little film led by a phenomenal Sir Ian McKellen with outstanding support by Larua Linney and newcomer Milo Parker. This film was more about exploring the (fictional) man behind the fictional detective rather than a crime-thriller/whodunit, however it is to director's Bill Condon's credit that he managed to structure the narrative as if it was.
Condon, after the successes of the Twilight saga, definitely must have some clout now to explore more indie exploits. And following Benedict Cumberbatch's rather exciting The Fifth Estate, Condon now gives us a more meditative biography of an equally intriguing person.
Together with screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher, Condon and him adapted Mitch Cullin's novel expertly. Weaving together a tight story about Sherlock Holmes in his twilight years - as a man riddled with a failing body and - most horrifically - a failing memory.
The narrative spanned over 30 years and in three locations, and was tightly framed and neatly paced, such that we never got lost following the story and the crime.
McKellan was brilliant. Suitably curmudgeon and convincingly doddering in his 90s, and bright-eyed and sharp in his 60s, McKellan conveyed the emotions and weighty expectations through subtle changes in his eyes and body language. He could literally conjure up the twinkle in his eyes!
Linney reunites with her Kinsey director and her character was an enigma, but she is one of the few actresses that could really stand her ground opposite the indomitable McKellen.
Parker as the young son of Linney's character, and the supposed protege of Holmes, will be a child-star to watch out for. Just like Tom Holland in The Impossible, hopefully good things will come to him in the future.
Cinematographer Tobias A. Schliessler beautifully captured the English countryside and the white cliffs of Dover, and Carter Burwell score was melancholic rich in brass and horns.
A wonderful film to watch and a well-spent 104 mins.