Sherlock Holmes (USA/Germany, 2009)

Yes, I don’t know either why this is a USA/Germany production, but that’s what it says on IMDB.

Cal and I watched this the other day, on account of hearing consistently good reports about it, including from Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s movie reviews (which I discovered thanks to my recommend-me-a-podcast post). My expectations still weren’t high, on account of (a) big blockbuster action fillum (b) jude law (c) guy ritchie, but I figured that at the very least it’s always fun to watch Robert Downey jr.
It was fun! I just loved the dialogue, which raced along without drawing attention to how clever and effective it was. The cast clearly loved it, treating every line like a favourite toy. Beautiful work, really engaging, put a smile on my face.
Negative: the action scenes were as exciting as watching someone else play a video game, i.e. not at all. Thankfully there weren’t that many of them, and the rest of the time I got to revel in the fun of characters being sarcastic to each other.
I’m not even remotely a Sherlock aficionado, but I understand this portrayal of the character is relatively faithful, if rather more of an action hero and rather more of a charmer than the literary version. Importantly, this was a Holmes who was decidedly unsafe, which is an aspect of Holmes that struck me in the stories I did read and which was decidedly absent in other big-screen versions. Watson not being a buffoon = also brilliant; see this fantastic strip by Kate Beaton who you really should be reading by now anyway.
I was pleased, also, that the chemistry between Holmes and Irene came off with a decided imbalance. Holmes seemed fascinated by and powerfully drawn to her, but I didn’t get the slightest sense of romantic interest from him, whereas Irene clearly just wanted to rip his trousers off every time she was in reach. How much did Downey Jr. play out the suggestion he mentioned to such controversy, I wonder? Gay subtext or not, Holmes was never a figure of love and romance, so this was all quite acceptable.
Worth a watch, but the big-screen explodo is unengaging – wait for DVD, I reckon.

3 thoughts on “Sherlock Holmes (USA/Germany, 2009)”

  1. Yeah, I enjoyed it immensely, and have pointed out to several people that the action scenes are quite in keeping with the original Conan-Doyle stories, which had similar action scenes all the way thru them.
    Watson’s competence, military background, and relationship with his fiancee (and _her_ relationship with Holmes, i..e. not being in the least bit intimidated by him) was also portrayed in this movie better than any other I’ve seen.
    Of course there was no romance from Holmes, he’s male, only women believe in romance. 🙂 He’s drawn to her because she constantly out-smarts him, and I wouldn’t confuse her seeming to want to rip his trousers, with _actually_ wanting to rip his trousers off. Remember she is as smart an operator as Holmes, and she obviously knows that’s the easiest way to get a man where you want him. I think she liked him for similar reasons as he liked her, he resisted her normal temptations, and so she was forced to be more clever use other tactics, like drugs.

  2. I’ve avoided this… so does Holmes actually demonstrate the brilliant deductive skills that are so often completely missing from movies featuring the character, but which are (to my way of thinking) the only really interesting thing about him? In the stories he doesn’t really behave like an actual human being, but the scenes where he explains how he reaches his conclusions make up for that.

  3. I never thought Holmes was gay – more asexual. Sex offers him no intellectual challenge, and so is uninteresting…
    Poirot and Hastings is a potentially different story. 🙂

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