Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 8th Jan, 2010 (India)
Time : 128 minutes
Director : Guy Ritchie; Writer : Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg; Music : Hans Zimmer
Starring : Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Geraldine James, Kelly Reilly

The true measure of the genius behind this film is that it borrows a mere skeletal outline of Conan Doyle’s Holmes, infuses an overall raw physicality, concocts a new case, gives its characters a fresh outlook to life and yet, does it all without totally alienating people born and brought up (like me) on Jeremy Brett and / or the 56 short stories / 4 novels preceding it.

The case is engaging, different to most that Holmes faced previously (involves the black arts) and has sufficient twists and turns to keep us glued. Holmes arrests a Lord Blackwood, who’s butchered 5 women to death, and he is sentenced to death. Yet it is not the end. As Lord Blackwood says, just as he’s about to be hanged, “Death is only the beginning”. And so it proves. (Didn’t Imhotep say / scribble the same thing in ‘The Mummy’ ?)

The delight comes from watching the familiar characters : Holmes / Watson / Irene Adler / Mrs Hudson : in totally new personalities. Holmes is very talkative, effusive, quite an extrovert with a mischievous sense of humour. He has lost none of his famous deductive powers but has also acquired a rugged physicality, a person who loves to box, wager, drink, loves a challenge and to fight, get into a scrap.
Watson, is more taciturn, is no longer the understudy or under Holmes shadow but almost as strong / intelligent a personality by himself. One interesting aspect through the film is the resentment Holmes feels towards Watson as he is about to leave 221 B Baker Street and take up residence with Mary Morston. On many occasions, he’s trying to lure Watson back, to get him to accompany him on his adventures once more, and a couple of times he’s even trying to split Watson & Mary up. I enjoyed watching this relationship, the easy banter, and the sense of humour between them.

Irene Adler, is an attractive rogue woman, imbued with a sensuality and motives not fully explained. Again the relationship between Holmes and her is beautifully shown, that of equals once again, matching their wits against each other. And Blackwood proves a worthy adversary, testing the combined skills of the three individuals mentioned above.

The action is of course, set in 19th century London, which resembles more Dharavi than the largely pristine city we know today. It is grainy, smelly, crowded and filthy. There is something about the dark underside of a city that seems to fascinate Guy Ritchie, as all his movies seem to be set in such locales. The performances were really good, very quirky, very apt, Robert Downey Jr, an actor I’d kind of given up on, delivering a very interesting take on the most famous detective of all time.

Its dark, even brutal at times. But mesmerizing. Its an interesting point of debate whether remakes should stay largely true to the original (Sabrina, The In-laws) or take just the broad outline and reinterpret them (Don, Sherlock Holmes). I love the fact that, as in life, there is no one true answer. There is a sequel built into the plot and for me, it cant quite come fast enough.

1 comment:

Rohit Deep said...

I agree. I would go to 9. Really well made and very well acted. I am becoming a bigger fan of Robert Downy Jr with each of his movies. Fast pace, twists and turns even for avid Sherlock Holmes.