Yes I’m afraid so! Phil Larkin is back with his analysis of Guy Ritchie’s take on the great detective as played by Robert Downey Jr.
By the way, in case you’re wondering this isn’t the same Philip Larkin the librarian who did a bit of writing in his spare time and wrote the poem This Be The Verse. He died in 1985.
THE NEW SHERLOCK HOLMES FILM: FIDELITY OR TREASON TO HIS NAME?
Having now seen the new Sherlock Holmes film in London over a week ago now, and having had time to think about it, can at least make a stab at a commentary for the blog and some conclusions as well. CW was decent enough to sit through the film again even though he had seen it a week or so before, and already has written a piece for the blog on it, so I don’t know whether or not the film was any better on seeing it twice (some films naturally are). I suppose the main thing I would say is that if you are prepared to suspend disbelief for a couple of hours, and take the film entirely on its own merits, then you will be in for some fun entertainment, some great performances from Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law, smashing special effects, and two very pretty leading ladies, Kelly Reilly (Mary Morant, Dr Watson’s fiancée) and Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler (Sherlock Holmes’ love interest and nemesis). This is certainly not a film which would induce a 10 year old schoolboy to ask a police desk sergeant whether Sherlock Holmes was real or not, and thus risk being told “Fuck away off, son and don’t be wasting my time!!!”
Effectively, Guy Ritchie has Holmes transmogrify into a type of late Victorian James Bond character, which probably explains the prevalence of action sequences in the film, and the high quality of the special effects. Rachel McAdams’ character is, in reality, that of a feisty and adventurous “Bond Girl”, rather than the highly intelligent and resourceful but also reticent and cool-headed as she was portrayed in Conan Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia.”
I believe that in the bantering and sometimes spiky relationship between Holmes and Watson, there were echoes of the film chemistry between Robert Redford and Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Holmes, as Downey Jnr portrayed him, was, perhaps in keeping with the spirit of Holmes himself, a man of action, but a bit too much on the slovenly and unkempt side for my liking! Ritchie has, quite obviously, left the door open for a sequel to be made, so, in spite of myself, I am quite looking forward to this coming out. However, for those who like their Holmes’ stories to be “pure”, don’t go to the film expecting an accurate depiction of Sir Arthur’s work on screen! I mean that. The film has as much bearing to the original stories as Hans Christian Anderson’s stories do to UK Cabinet meetings. Holmes, for all his physical and mental abilities, was no James Bond, and in many ways was his absolute antithesis. I must say that having him running around after women (even such an attractive one) is simply not him. I still have to say that I am sticking with Jeremy Brett as the definitive Sherlock Holmes!
*Not the poet by the way -just in case you were wondering. He died in 1985.