The Aging Sherlock

We went to see Mr. Holmes at the Princeton Garden Theater last night and it was a lot about regrets and forgetting and getting older and trying to puzzle out a case. Holmes is in his nineties, 93, and he's losing the power of his brain, his greatest asset, though still sharp in some ways (he has the power to deduce where the housekeeper has been by the state of her hair, nails, and dress), he can't recall the details of the case that caused him to quit detective work entirely. The case went so badly, he retired to the country, where he keeps aviaries, and those bumblebees play a big part in the story, these industrious creatures who are mysteriously dying. Then there is his visit to Japan to get a special herb to help his memory from a Japanese man, and there is a mystery there too, because it turns out the man invited him there because he believes Holmes knew his father (and encouraged him to abandon the family--which wasn't true).

So, there are four mysteries--the mystery of why the bees are dying, the mystery of Holmes' last case, which he keeps piecing together through the little boy of the house, the mystery of the Japanese man, and I guess that's it and so it's three mysteries. Oh, well, unless you county the mystery of why Laura Linney was cast as the housekeeper. I mean, I love Laura Linney, but she doesn't scream, "English housekeeper/mother" to me. Well, there is also the mystery of what happened to the little boy's father, and that gets solved as well--in trying to better himself, the father joined the RAF during WW II and was shot down on his first mission. His friends who worked at the garage all signed up for mechanics duty and all made it home. There's a lesson imbedded in his death, which is to not try to rise above your station, lest you be shot down by the enemy.

I love Ian McKellen, though I confuse him often with the author, Ian McEwan. He was the right amount of doddering and sharp. Dan and his mom thought the beginning was slow, but it's so beautiful, all of this rolling green countryside and raggedy sheep and old automobiles, that I didn't notice the slow pace. Luke was interested because he has read a lot of books about the young Sherlock Holmes. Plus, he's inexplicably patient about unfolding plots--I felt the same nervousness when we watched The Life of Pi together--that whole story starts off with 30 minutes of domesticity before it roars into action--but he stayed interested in that as well. In any case, I recommend Mr. Holmes, as long as you go into it knowing it's more about the challenges of aging then it is about who killed so and so,