Sherlock Holmes…most engaging
Although later than anticipated, I did get to see Sherlock Holmes in theaters this week. Critical reception was mixed; people either liked the film or thought it demolished the essence of the character fans are used to reading in the Doyle novels.
As a film, Robert Downey, Jr. did exactly what I thought he’d do with the work he had. I mentioned how I consider him a credibility lender for making things work that may not have with a different thespian.
I admit that I haven’t read any of Doyle’s novels, but when I watch films based on novels or literary characters, I critique them as films and not as translations from books. Authors have much more creative freedom than film directors have, so I don’t consider books vs. movies an apples-to-apples comparison.
However, I did have the New York Times article that I blogged about earlier this week. Armed with that knowledge, I believe Downey expressed the nuances of the Holmes character without stealing the show. The first portion of the film explores Holmes, so the audience understands how his mind works as he and Dr. John Watson take on a case with significant stakes on the line. His methods sometimes frustrate his counterparts and enemies, but Holmes’ allies don’t succumb to his apparent fallacies. Holmes’ primary interests are the cases he’s hired for and researching subjects he’s adamantly curious about. The 2009 rendition of Holmes observes every item during an investigation to see if it holds relevance to the mystery. Most of the time, his uncommon sense of awareness uncovers clues that would otherwise go undetected. He knows no morally ethical boundaries in crime-solving, he’ll often choose the scientific route of ethics to answer his questions.
Although I may not risk bodily harm to answer my questions about people or places, I strongly identified with Downey’s Holmes as he reflected other personalities in contemporary TV culture. The scientifically ethical procedures he employs is no different from Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. His 360* sensory skills and ignorance to the feelings of others while in crime-solving mode conjures up Gregory House of House. Just like House, if it wasn’t for Holmes’ skills, stories would meet darker ends.
I haven’t detected a surge in interest for Doyle’s books after the movie was released, but I did leave the theater pondering what we would learn about ourselves if we eliminated raw emotion from the equation. Holmes does show feelings for others, although not as frequently as Watson, which would throw a curve ball for those attempting to ascertain similarities between Holmes and the autism spectrum. However, the strongest parallel between myself and Holmes (most of the time) is the lack of concern over our image in the eyes of others. There are options available, but only our own feelings can be controlled. Learning to release myself from the emotional hook’s grasp is slowly liberating me. That same quality allows the film Holmes to freely pursue his motivations.
Spectators may be divided over Guy Ritchie’s approach to Holmes, but they can also take away something that could help liberate themselves.