Mr. Holmes snagged a spot on our list of Most Anticipated 2015 Movies, just based on its premise: Sir Ian McKellen, of X-Men and Lord of the Rings/Hobbit fame, playing a 93-old Sherlock Holmes looking back on his life (and his one unsolved case) as a super-sleuth. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait until the fall to check out Bill Condon’s buzzed-about (more on that later) fictional period drama here in the States, as Roadside Attractions and Miramax have slated the movie for a summertime release this year instead.
Condon’s new film is already drawing comparisons to his previous collaboration with McKellen – the Oscar-winning James Whale memoir Gods and Monsters – as well as such famous titles as Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries: movies that weave in and out of memories and the present-day, as their elderly protagonists examine their life’s accomplishments. Here, of course, it’s Sherlock Holmes who’s doing the self-reflection – something that distinguishes this take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation from other modern renditions, which revolve around the detective in the prime of his career.
Mr. Holmes premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year, with THR now reporting it will debut in U.S. theaters in about four months, on July 17th. The initial critical reception for the feature – based on Mitch Cullin’s novel “A Slight Trick of the Mind” and adapted for the screen by scribe Jeffrey Hatcher (The Dutchess) – has been quite strong thus far (with only eleven reviews counted on Rottten Tomatoes thus far), drawing praises such as that featured in the following excerpts:
Variety – After hitting a couple of commercial highs (“Dreamgirls,” “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”) and one major artistic low (“The Fifth Estate”) in the major-studio trade, Bill Condon makes a welcome return to more intimate, character-based fare in “Mr. Holmes,” an elegiac portrait of the once-great detective as a senescent old man — arthritic of body and foggy of mind, yet unwilling to go gently into that good night…
THR – This is a ruminative film of minor-key rewards, driven by an impeccably nuanced performance from McKellen as a solitary 93-year-old man enfeebled by age, yet still canny and even compassionate in ways that surprise and comfort him… The film represents an agreeably old-fashioned alternative to all the modernized reinventions of Arthur Conan Doyle’s venerable detective in recent years…
The Guardian – Mr Holmes contains enough references to Conan Doyle’s stories to keep fans of the detective happy. However, it is far more than just a spoof film or Sherlock done in an OAP, Last of the Summer Wine way. This is a story about ageing, regret and redemption and that is the elementary reason why it is so effective in tugging at our emotions.
July 17th this year is the same day that Marvel Studios plans to release its new solo superhero adventure Ant-Man (headlined by Paul Rudd), while Universal has settled on that same date to premiere Amy Schumer’s comedy Trainwreck. Mr. Holmes may not possess anywhere near the commercial drawing power of those two films, but it still ought to be able to find some room to breathe at the box office – recalling how similar intimate dramas (like Boyhood managed back in July 2014) have done, amidst a sea of tentpoles in summers past.
In case you missed it, the first trailer for Mr. Holmes has already dropped online, providing a look at both the film’s namesake as well as its small, but strong supporting cast. That acting roster includes Laura Linney (who previously costarred in Condon’s biopics/memoirs Kinsey and The Fifth Estate), Hiroyuki Sanada (Extant, Helix), Hattie Morahan (The Bletchley Circle), Roger Allam (Parade’s End, The Book Thief), and Colin Starkey as the famous Dr. John Watson.
Mr. Holmes opens in U.S. theaters on July 17th, 2015.