DRAMA; 1hr 43min
STARRING: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker
Past imperfect: Hattie Morahan and McKellen
It’s 1947 and the great detective Sherlock Holmes (McKellen) is a mentally and physically failing 93 in director Bill Condon’s off-piste reimagining, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from the 2005 Mitch Cullins novel A Slight Trick of the Mind. Uncertainty is an especially taunting condition for a man once famed for his preternatural nose for the nasty. Holmes does his damnedest to cope, having retired to a reverie of Sussex bee-keeping under the knowingly mournful gaze of his widowed housekeeper, Mrs Munro (Linney, who could play a deerstalker and look convincing), with whose young son, Roger (Parker), he has a sustaining bond. But a decades-old cold case still haunts the conscience-stricken super-sleuth, frustratingly so, since vital bits of it have been lost in the fog of time.
Working once again with Gods and Monsters’ Condon, McKellen conjures up an endearing curmudgeon, his intellect still ticking despite the snags of obscured memory. As the younger, immaculately dapper Holmes, caught in flashbacks that re-trace that final, decisive case, the enduring star is all feline thrust and parry. It’s in the susceptibility of the old man’s creeping loss of self that the beauty of his empathy lies.