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Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellan), now elderly and living by the seaside, finds that a knack for observation and deductive reasoning might make a good detective, but it’s not enough to build a fulfilling life. He’s never quite lived up to the hype created by the novels his late associate, Dr. Watson, wrote about their cases. His keen mind and memory are beginning to fail him, and he has no family or friends to turn to.

The only people in his life are Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney), the housekeeper who barely puts up with his cantankerous ways, and her young son, Roger, who is fascinated by the highly educated Mr. Holmes.

Holmes is working hard to record his final case in an attempt to correctly remember the events that led to his retirement. Unfortunately, his memories come in short flashes that he must somehow put together.

The slow plot progression is rescued by lush filming and wonderful performances. McKellan arouses viewers to both frustration with his rude treatment of the people who are caring for him and empathy for his obvious isolation. Linney is just right as a compassionate woman who is understandably at her wit’s end. The scenes with Holmes and young Roger are the heart and soul of the movie.

The film is not for those seeking another dose of witty banter and sharp-minded detective work. It is mournful and full of regret as Holmes looks back on his proud ways and his lack of human connection, but there is a gentle beauty in this look at very late-in-life redemption. On disc now. (Lionsgate)

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