Mr. Holmes

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Mr. Holmes
In this movie poster, Ian McKellen, playing a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes, stands posed for the camera, left hand on hip, right hand braced on a walking stick. His clothing, although neat and elegant, is quite out of fashion. Though the year is 1947, he wears a late Edwardian suit, top hat, and a shirt with a stiff rounded collar.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBill Condon
Produced by
Screenplay byJeffrey Hatcher
Based on
Music byCarter Burwell
CinematographyTobias A. Schliessler
Edited byVirginia Katz
Distributed by
Release date
  • 8 February 2015 (2015-02-08) (Berlinale)
  • 19 June 2015 (2015-06-19) (United Kingdom)
  • 17 July 2015 (2015-07-17) (United States)
Running time
104 minutes[2]
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Budget$10 million[3]
Box office$29.4 million[4]

Mr. Holmes is a 2015 mystery film directed by Bill Condon, based on Mitch Cullin's 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, and featuring the character Sherlock Holmes. The film stars Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes, Laura Linney as his housekeeper Mrs. Munro and Milo Parker as her son Roger. Set primarily during his retirement in Sussex, the film follows a 93-year-old Holmes who struggles to recall the details of his final case because his mind is slowly deteriorating.

Principal photography began on 5 July 2014, in London. The film was screened out of competition at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival and had its premiere on 7 February 2015.[5][6]

The film was released in British cinemas on 19 June 2015,[7] and in the United States on 17 July 2015.


In 1947, the long-retired Sherlock Holmes, aged 93, lives in a remote Sussex farmhouse with his widowed housekeeper Mrs Munro and her young son Roger. Having just returned from a trip to Hiroshima, Holmes starts to use jelly made from the prickly ash plant he acquired there to try to improve his failing memory. Unhappy about Watson's fictionalisation of his last case, The Adventure of the Dove Grey Glove, he hopes to write his own account, but has trouble recalling the events. As Holmes spends time with Roger, showing him how to take care of the bees in the farmhouse's apiary, he comes to appreciate Roger's curiosity and intelligence and develops a paternal liking for him.

Over time, Roger's prodding helps Holmes remember the case (shown in flashbacks); he knows he must have failed somehow, as it resulted in his retirement from the detective business. Almost 30 years earlier, after the First World War had ended and Watson had married and left Baker Street, Thomas Kelmot approached Holmes to find out why his wife Ann had become estranged from him after suffering two miscarriages. Holmes followed Ann around London and observed her seemingly preparing to murder her husband – forging cheques in her husband's name and cashing them, confirming the details of his will, buying poison, paying a man, and checking train schedules. Holmes, however, deduced her true intentions: to have gravestones made for her and her miscarried children (the man she paid was a stonemason) and then kill herself. Confronting her, Holmes confessed he had the same feelings of loneliness and isolation, but his intellectual pursuits sufficed for him. Ann asked Holmes if they could share the burden of their loneliness together. Holmes was tempted, but instead advised her to return to her husband. She poured the poison on the ground, thanked Holmes, and departed. Holmes later learned that Ann persisted in killing herself by stepping in front of an oncoming train. Blaming himself, he retired and fell into a deep depression. Watson briefly returns to care for him and, discovering the details of the case, rewrites the tragedy into a success.

A second series of flashbacks recounts Holmes' recent trip to Japan, where he met a supposed admirer named Tamiki Umezaki who had told him of the benefits of prickly ash. In fact, Umezaki had a hidden motive for meeting Holmes. Years before, Umezaki's anglophile father had traveled to England. In a letter, the father wrote that he had been advised by the brilliant Holmes to remain there permanently, abandoning his wife and son. Holmes bluntly told Umezaki that his father simply wanted a new life for himself and that Holmes had never met him. Umezaki was crushed.

In the present, Mrs Munro gradually becomes dissatisfied with her work, and Holmes's overall health deteriorates and he spends more time with her son. After he becomes unconscious from an experiment with the prickly ash, he requires more physical care. Mrs. Munro accepts a job at a hotel in Portsmouth, planning to take Roger to work there as well. Roger does not want to go, feeling attached to Holmes and being unhappy with his barely literate mother and his family's working-class status, thus tension develops between mother and son. Holmes and Mrs Munro later discover Roger lying unconscious near the house, a victim of multiple stings, and he is rushed to a hospital. Distraught, Mrs Munro tries to burn down the apiary, blaming Holmes for caring only about himself and his bees. Holmes stops her, having realised that Roger had been stung by wasps; Roger found their nest and tried to drown them to protect the bees, but they swarmed on him instead. Holmes and Mrs Munro burn down the wasp nest together, and Roger regains consciousness. Holmes tells Mrs Munro how he was too fearful to open himself to act as a caring person with Ann Kelmot, and that he wants Mrs Munro and Roger to stay in his life, leaving them his house and grounds after his death.

Holmes writes his first work of fiction: a letter to Umezaki, telling him that his father was a brave, honourable man who worked secretly and effectively for the British Empire. As Roger begins to teach his mother how to care for the bees, Holmes emulates a tradition he saw being practiced in Hiroshima: creating a ring of stones to serve as a place where he can recall the loved ones he has lost over the years.



On 5 September 2013 it was announced that Mitch Cullin's 2005 book A Slight Trick of the Mind would be adapted into a film, with Ian McKellen as a long-retired Sherlock Holmes. Bill Condon was set to direct Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of the novel. AI-Film was on board to finance and co-produce the film, Anne Carey was set to produce through her Archer Gray Productions, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman would produce through See-Saw Films, and BBC Films would also co-finance the film. Filmnation Entertainment was set to handle the international sales for the film.[8]

On 7 May 2014, Laura Linney and Hattie Morahan were added to the cast, with Linney set to play Mrs Munro, the housekeeper to Holmes.[9] On 9 July Hiroyuki Sanada was added to the cast to play Matsuda Umezaki, a prickly ash plant enthusiast whom Holmes visits in Japan.[11] On 10 July, more cast were revealed, including Patrick Kennedy, Roger Allam, Phil Davis, Frances de la Tour, with Milo Parker to play Mrs Munro's son.[10] On 22 August it was revealed that Nicholas Rowe, who portrayed Holmes in the 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes, would have a cameo role in the film. He portrays Holmes in a sequence spoofing the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films.[12] On 3 September 2014, Miramax acquired distribution rights to the film in the United States with Roadside Attractions as partner.[13]


Principal photography began on 5 July 2014 in the United Kingdom.[14][15] On 9 July, McKellen tweeted a picture of himself as Sherlock Holmes in the film.[16] The film was set for a seven-week shoot on location in London and on the south coast of England.[10] The production also filmed at The Historic Dockyard Chatham which doubled as streets in Japan.[17]


Carter Burwell composed the music for the film.[18] The soundtrack was released on 28 August 2015.


The film was released in British cinemas on 19 June 2015, and in the United States on 17 July 2015 and had its premiere on 7 February 2015. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 10 November 2015.


According to the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 89% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 179 reviews, with an average rating of 7.16/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Mr. Holmes focuses on the man behind the mysteries, and while it may lack Baker Street thrills, it more than compensates with tenderly wrought, well-acted drama."[19] At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[20] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[21]

IGN awarded it a score of 7.7 out of 10, saying "Gentle, moving, diverting drama that's perfect Sunday afternoon fare".[22]


Award Category Recipient Result
British Independent Film Awards Most Promising Newcomer Milo Parker Nominated
Indiana Film Journalists Association Awards[23][24] Best Film Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Laura Linney Nominated
Best Actor Ian McKellen Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Actor Ian McKellen Nominated
Saturn Awards[25] Best Thriller Film Nominated
Best Performance by a Younger Actor Milo Parker Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association[26] Best Actor Ian McKellen Runner-up
Sydney Film Festival Audience Award Bill Condon Nominated


  1. ^ Guy Lodge (25 October 2015). "Mr. Holmes Review". Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  2. ^ "MR. HOLMES (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 15 May 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Mr. Holmes (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  5. ^ "Jafar Panahi's New Film in Competition". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Queen of the Desert". Archived from the original on 30 January 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  7. ^ Plumb, Ali (4 March 2015). "Teaser Trailer For Ian McKellen's Mr Holmes Lands". Empire. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  8. ^ a b Kemp, Stuart (5 September 2013). "Toronto: Ian McKellen to Play Retired Sherlock Holmes in Bill Condon's 'A Slight Trick of the Mind'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  9. ^ a b c McNary, Dave (7 May 2014). "Laura Linney Joins Ian McKellen in 'A Slight Trick of the Mind'". Variety. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Barraclough, Leo (10 July 2014). "First Image of Ian McKellen in Bill Condon's 'Mr. Holmes,' Further Cast Revealed". Variety. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  11. ^ a b Yamto, Jen (9 July 2014). "Hiroyuki Sanada Joins Sherlock Holmes Drama 'A Slight Trick of the Mind'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  12. ^ Plumb, Ali (21 August 2014). "Exclusive: Nicholas Rowe To Cameo In Mr Holmes". Empire. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  13. ^ Hall, Gina (3 September 2014). "Miramax Acquires Elderly Sherlock Tale 'Mr. Holmes,' Starring Ian McKellen and Laura Linney". TheWrap. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  14. ^ "Principal photography began in UK 5 July 2014".
  16. ^ Fletcher, Harry (9 July 2014). "See Ian McKellen as a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes". Digital Spy. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  17. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Mr. Holmes Article".
  18. ^ "Carter Burwell to Score Bill Condon's 'Mr. Holmes'". Film Music Reporter. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  19. ^ "Mr. Holmes (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  20. ^ "Mr. Holmes Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  21. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony. "'Ant-Man' Shrinking Below Its $60M Weekend Projection – Saturday Update". Deadline Hollywood.
  22. ^ "Mr. Holmes Review". IGN.
  23. ^ The Indiana Film Journalists Association Begins Nominations Process for 2015 Awards
  24. ^ Indiana Film Journalists Association - Winners on Page 11 [Archive] - AwardsWatch
  25. ^ "The 42nd Annual Saturn Awards nominations are announced for 2016!". Saturn Awards. 24 February 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  26. ^ 2015 — St. Louis Film Critics Association

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