by Brenda W. Clough
It is a truth universally acknowledged that movies are targeted at the young. The summer blockbusters, the fantasy trilogies, the reboots of Star Wars and the Fantastic Four — they’re all designed for moviegoers under the age of 25.
But look closer in the movie listings and you can find the movies that aren’t. There are movies specifically tailored for the older viewer. A great example of this would be Mr. Holmes (2015), starring the incomparable Ian McKellen. Based on the novel A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin, this movie is a meditation on age. Even Sherlock Holmes has some things he needs to accomplish before he dies. As in so many nouveau-Holmes works — everything from Laurie King to Nicholas Meyer — the creators are driven to increase the Great Detective’s emotional ties. No one can accept Holmes as he was written, as the logical and emotionless detective genius. He has to have hidden depths of heart, and authors insist on plumbing them — I’ve done it myself.
The problems the aged Holmes faces here are not those of the bildungsroman. No empires are saved here, no princesses rescued. Instead he is in quest of the things that the old are looking for: closure, forgiveness, the setting of things right before it is too late. It is beautiful, and will stay with you in a way that a CGI battle between Norse deities won’t.
McKellen’s acting is superb in this. You can watch his face and see Holmes drift in and out of focus; those moments when the aged eyes suddenly blaze into life are magical.There are no superpowers, no explosions, no SFX in this movie — just amazing acting and a powerful script.
The ebook version of my novel How Like a God is now available from Book View Cafe. And it is available now in an audio book edition which is read by Bronson Pinchot!
My newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out from Book View Café.