Mr. Holmes parents guide

Mr. Holmes Parent Review

This is a film that demands constant attention but your close observation will be rewarded. It's a bit of heavy lifting but "Mr. Holmes" is worth the weight.

Overall A-

Even though Sherlock Homes (Ian McKellen) retires to a sleepy seaside village, an unsolved case still stalks him. Fearing his mind and abilities are aging, the famous detective finds an unusual source of help in his young neighbor (Milo Parker).

Violence B-
Sexual Content A
Profanity A
Substance Use B

Mr. Holmes is rated PG for thematic elements, some disturbing images and incidental smoking.

Movie Review

Unless you have a teen who is an ardent fan of Baker Street’s most notable resident, you can nearly be certain this is a movie they won’t care for. Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal character is reengineered once again, but not as the obsessive genius made popular by Benedict Cumberbatch or the cocky gumshoe delivered by Robert Downey Jr. In this mystery our Sherlock is an aging gentleman who is dealing with the onset of dementia which is clouding his ability to discern between fact and fiction.

Mr. Homes (Ian McKellen) resides in a country home, is cared for by his housekeeper Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and is entertained by her young son Roger (Milo Parker). It’s 1947 and while the rest of the country is still rebuilding from the war, our protagonist is doing his best to try and recall what happened. One specific memory he is struggling with is why, 35 years ago, he would have ever left his profession and chosen to live in exile. The only thing he can assume is that he failed to solve his final case—or did he?

Complicating the matter, his assistant John Watson took up the life of an author, writing stories about the cases they were attempting to solve. (It’s an interesting premise considering Doyle’s novels were written from Watson’s first person perspective.) Referring to Watson’s writings, Holmes is certain his loyal assistant embellished the facts on many cases, and formulated a successful conclusion for the final one. But, if that true, then what really happened? Searching for the answer becomes a near obsession for the retired detective. The mental anguish is also making him more difficult to care for. This is leading Mrs. Munro to consider finding another situation, as well as become more concerned about the time Roger is spending with their charge.

This movie includes the mature themes of aging and suicide (we see a person facing an oncoming train). Thankfully other content issues are few and include only a youngster covered with insect stings and a smoker who is briefly seen. There were no sexual content or profanities noted.

Based on Mitch Cullin’s novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, this is a film that demands constant attention to what’s taking place on screen. Three storylines weave through just as many time periods, representing the somewhat cluttered collage of visual memories inhabiting Holmes’ dimming mind. The reward for your close observation is an unexpected conclusion sure to stimulate after-movie discussions about the loneliness, economic class distinctions and the nature of humans to embellish facts and even tell falsehoods to alleviate grief. You’ll also get to see some incredible acting and beautiful cinematography. It’s a bit of heavy lifting but Mr. Holmes is worth the weight.

Directed by Bill Condon. Starring Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Hiroyuki Sanada. Running time: 104 minutes. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Mr. Holmes here.

Mr. Holmes Parents Guide

From the Studio:
MR HOLMES is a new twist on the world’s most famous detective. 1947, an aging Sherlock Holmes returns from a journey to Japan, where, in search of a rare plant with powerful restorative qualities, he has witnessed the devastation of nuclear warfare.
Now, in his remote seaside farmhouse, Holmes faces the end of his days tending to his bees, with only the company of his housekeeper and her young son, Roger.  Grappling with the diminishing powers of his mind, Holmes comes to rely upon the boy as he revisits the circumstances of the unsolved case that forced him into retirement, and searches for answers to the mysteries of life and love – before it’s too late.
© Roadside Attractions

Talk about the movie with your family…

What role does young Roger play in Mr. Holmes life? How does Roger assist his elderly friend? What are the benefits of having interactions with people of a variety of ages? What does Roger gain from his interactions with Mr. Holmes?

How did you feel about an intelligent character like Sherlock Holmes being depicted on the verge of dementia? While it is a difficult way to live our final years, how may both the afflicted individual and the caregivers benefit from interacting with one another?

For the most part movies have ignored dementia, but lately films are exploring this topic—the Oscar nominated Still Alice being an example. Why do you think moviemakers are more interested in stories involving aging?

Do you have a tendency to want to make a real life event sound more exciting or end more happily than it actually did? Why do we do this? How may this tendency alter our ability to recall what really happened? How does truth vary depending on our perspective?

In one scene, Roger becomes upset with his mother and says mean things to her. Sherlock tells him he must apologize or he will regret what he said forever. He also says to Roger that we shouldn’t say everything we think. Is this sound advice? When is it a good idea not to voice all of our thoughts and feelings?

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