Sherlock Holmes has been retired for thirty years. Upon finally reading Dr John Watson's stories for the first time along with watching a "Talking Picture" depicting his last adventure, Sherlock decides to write the truth about his last case. Dr Watson had always been liberal with the facts, for entertainment's sake. Though, the last case is niggling at Sherlock's deteriorating mind... It must have been very important as it made him turn his back on the profession he loved. Will there be enough time to get it all down on paper before his memory fails completely?
This is a nice "What If?" story. Writer, Mitch Cullen (who wrote the novel) and screenplay writer Jeffrey Hatcher do no disservice to the character Arthur Conan Doyle created. This is still the same Sherlock Holmes of the stories, though older, but maybe not wiser.
Ian McKellen was a perfect choice for this aged character and he gives a brilliant portrayal. Though it's Laura Linney who surprised me the most. For me, she's never been a draw. However, I am pleased to say that as Mrs Munro, Sherlock's housekeeper, she is great. There was a slight moment when we first meet her and her accent slips into across between American and North Country. However, this is only for a few seconds. From there on in her accent is pretty good. Not perfect, though, not bad. One of my favourite scenes in the film is when Mrs Munro is discussing her late husband with her son, Roger (Parker). When Roger asks her if she's good at making up stories, her reply and the look on her face, along with the pregnant pause, really does show a whole range of emotions in just a few scant seconds - very well done. Milo Parker is a very strong actor who had to contend with working with a great cast, which he did seamlessly. The director, Condon, did a great job of not letting the character of Roger steal the show, which could have easily happened.
Condon also does a fantastic job of filming. Using camera shots to add atmosphere and show locations to their best advantage. The part where Sherlock follows Anne Kelmot (Morahan) through London is a perfect example. The scene at the train station where she makes a pay-off is one of my favourites in the film. What with the steam filling the platforms and the shots looking between the moving carriages. It really does set the scene well.
To be honest, I really couldn't find anything wrong with either the story or the film. As I've said before, I am not a fan of flashbacks. Though here they are used to tell Sherlock's last case as he tries to remember it and write it down. Then you have the remembrances of Japan where Sherlock has recently been looking for a remedy to his failing memory. These are expertly told and done in such a way that adds power and depth to the story... not confusion, which is the case with a lot of films. In a lot of movies, flashbacks add a disjointed feeling to the pace and structure. Luckily for the viewer, Condon is a master at weaving them into the story with seemingly effortless ease.
This film is a must-see for all Sherlock fans, Mystery Lovers, Thriller Fans, and Armchair Detectives everywhere. This hasn't made it into my top ten movies, though I have to admit I'll watch it again... I may even consider buying a copy.