Mr. Holmes
In this movie poster, Ian McKellen, playing a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes, stands posed for the camera, left hand on hip, right hand braced on a walking stick. His clothing, although neat and elegant, is quite out of fashion. Though the year is 1947, he wears a late Edwardian suit, top hat, and a shirt with a stiff rounded collar.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBill Condon
Screenplay byJeffrey Hatcher
Based on
Produced by
CinematographyTobias A. Schliessler
Edited byVirginia Katz
Music byCarter Burwell
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 7 February 2015 (2015-02-07) (Berlinale)
  • 19 June 2015 (2015-06-19) (United Kingdom)
  • 17 July 2015 (2015-07-17) (United States)
Running time
104 minutes[3]
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Budget$10 million (est.)[4]
Box office$29.4 million[2]

Mr. Holmes is a 2015 mystery film directed by Bill Condon, based on Mitch Cullin's 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, and featuring the character Sherlock Holmes. The film stars Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes, Laura Linney as his housekeeper Mrs. Munro and Milo Parker as her son Roger. Set primarily during his retirement in Sussex, the film follows a 93-year-old Holmes who struggles to recall the details of his final case because his mind is slowly deteriorating.

Principal photography began on 5 July 2014, in London. The film was screened out of competition at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival and had its premiere on 7 February 2015.[5][6]

The film was released in British cinemas on 19 June 2015,[7] and in the United States on 17 July 2015.


In 1947, the long-retired Sherlock Holmes, aged 93, lives in a rural Sussex farmhouse with his widowed housekeeper Mrs Munro and her young son Roger. Having just returned from a trip to Hiroshima, Holmes starts to use a prickly ash plant he acquired there to try to improve his failing memory. Unhappy about Watson's fictionalisation of his last case, The Adventure of the Dove Grey Glove, he hopes to write his own account, but has trouble recalling the events. As Holmes spends time with Roger, showing him how to take care of the bees in the farmhouse's apiary, he comes to appreciate Roger's curiosity and intelligence and develops a paternal liking for him.

Over time, Roger's prodding helps Holmes remember the case (shown in flashbacks); he knows he must have failed somehow, as it resulted in his retirement from the detective business. Almost 30 years earlier, after the First World War had ended and Watson had married and left Baker Street, Thomas Kelmot approached Holmes to find out why his wife Ann had become estranged from him after suffering two miscarriages. Holmes followed Ann around London and observed her seemingly preparing to murder her husband – forging cheques in her husband's name and cashing them, confirming the details of his will, buying poison, paying a man, and checking train schedules. Holmes, however, deduced her true intentions: to have gravestones made for her and her miscarried children (the man she paid was a stonemason) and then kill herself. Confronting her, Holmes confessed he had the same feelings of loneliness and isolation, but his intellectual pursuits sufficed for him. Ann asked Holmes if they could share the burden of their loneliness together. Holmes was tempted, but instead advised her to return to her husband. She poured the poison on the ground, thanked Holmes, and departed. Holmes later learned that Ann succeeded in killing herself by stepping in front of an oncoming train. Blaming himself, he retired and fell into a deep depression. Watson briefly returns to care for him and, discovering the details of the case, rewrites the tragedy into a success.

A second series of flashbacks recounts Holmes' recent trip to Japan, where he met a supposed admirer named Tamiki Umezaki who had told him of the benefits of prickly ash. In fact, Umezaki brought Holmes to Japan in order to confront him. Years before, Umezaki's father had gone to England on business and never returned; he had sent a letter explaining that Holmes had persuaded him to remain there and forget his family in Japan. To Umezaki's disappointment, Holmes told him bluntly that his father probably just wanted a new life for himself and that he had never met the man.

In the present, Mrs Munro grows discontent with her work as Holmes becomes infirm and burdensome to look after. His closeness to her son Roger is another source of tension, as the boy is becoming dissatisfied with his family's lowly status and increasingly distant from his barely literate mother. Mrs Munro accepts a job at a hotel in Portsmouth, and plans to take Roger to work there as well. Roger is unenthused by the prospect of hotel drudgery and unwilling to leave Holmes, and says as much to his mother. Later, Holmes discovers Roger lying unconscious in the garden, covered in insect stings. As the boy is rushed to hospital, Mrs Munro accuses Holmes of caring for nothing but himself and his bees, and prepares to burn the apiary. Holmes stops her, having realised that the culprits are actually wasps; Roger had found a nearby nest and tried to flood it in order to protect the apiary, but the wasps swarmed on him instead. Holmes and Mrs Munro burn the nest together, then return to the hospital as Roger regains consciousness. As they sit in the waiting room, Holmes tells Mrs Munro that he was too fearful and selfish to open himself up to Ann Kelmot and to give her the comfort that she needed. He wants her and Roger to stay in his life, and tells her that they will inherit his estate after his death.

Back home, Holmes writes his first work of fiction: a letter to Umezaki, telling him that his father was a brave, honourable man who worked secretly and effectively for the British Empire. As Roger begins to teach his mother how to care for the bees, Holmes emulates a tradition he saw practised in Hiroshima: creating a ring of stones to serve as a place where he can recall the loved ones he has lost over the years.



On 5 September 2013, it was announced that Mitch Cullin's 2005 book A Slight Trick of the Mind would be adapted into a film, with Ian McKellen as a long-retired Sherlock Holmes. Bill Condon was set to direct Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of the novel. AI-Film was on board to finance and co-produce the film, Anne Carey was set to produce through her Archer Gray Productions, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman would produce through See-Saw Films, and BBC Films would also co-finance the film. Filmnation Entertainment was set to handle the international sales for the film.[8]

On 7 May 2014, Laura Linney and Hattie Morahan were added to the cast, with Linney set to play Mrs Munro, the housekeeper to Holmes.[9] On 9 July Hiroyuki Sanada was added to the cast to play Matsuda Umezaki, a prickly ash plant enthusiast whom Holmes visits in Japan.[11] On 10 July, more cast were revealed, including Patrick Kennedy, Roger Allam, Phil Davis, Frances de la Tour, with Milo Parker to play Mrs Munro's son.[10] On 22 August it was revealed that Nicholas Rowe, who portrayed Holmes in the 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes, would have a cameo role in the film. He portrays Holmes in a sequence spoofing the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films.[13] On 3 September 2014, Miramax acquired distribution rights to the film in the United States with Roadside Attractions as partner.[14]


Principal photography began on 5 July 2014 in the United Kingdom.[15][16] On 9 July, McKellen tweeted a picture of himself as Sherlock Holmes in the film.[17] The film was set for a seven-week shoot on location in London and on the south coast of England.[10] The production also filmed at The Historic Dockyard Chatham which doubled as streets in Japan.[18]


Carter Burwell composed the music for the film.[19] The soundtrack was released on 28 August 2015.

Copyright Dispute

The Conan Doyle Estate filed legal action against the creators of the film on May 21, 2015, alleging unauthorized copying of copyrighted stories by Arthur Conan Doyle that cover the later life of Sherlock Holmes.[20] All parties reached an agreement out of court before the release of the film in the United States, and later editions of the novel on which the film is based now include a note thanking the estate for permission to use copyrighted material.[21]


The film had its premiere at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival on February 7, 2015. It was released in British cinemas on 19 June 2015 and in the United States on 17 July 2015.[7][22] It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 13 October 2015.


According to the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 88% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 187 reviews, with an average rating of 7.10/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Mr. Holmes focuses on the man behind the mysteries, and while it may lack Baker Street thrills, it more than compensates with tenderly wrought, well-acted drama."[23] At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[24] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[25]

IGN awarded it a score of 7.7 out of 10, saying "Gentle, moving, diverting drama that's perfect Sunday afternoon fare".[26]


Award Category Recipient Result
British Independent Film Awards Most Promising Newcomer Milo Parker Nominated
Indiana Film Journalists Association Awards[27][28] Best Film Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Laura Linney Nominated
Best Actor Ian McKellen Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Actor Ian McKellen Nominated
Saturn Awards[29] Best Thriller Film Nominated
Best Performance by a Younger Actor Milo Parker Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association[30] Best Actor Ian McKellen Runner-up
Sydney Film Festival Audience Award Bill Condon Nominated


  1. ^ Guy Lodge (25 October 2015). "Mr. Holmes Review". Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Mr. Holmes (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  3. ^ "MR. HOLMES (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 15 May 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Mr. Holmes". Archived from the original on 15 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Jafar Panahi's New Film in Competition". Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Queen of the Desert". Archived from the original on 30 January 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  7. ^ a b Plumb, Ali (4 March 2015). "Teaser Trailer For Ian McKellen's Mr Holmes Lands". Empire. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  8. ^ a b Kemp, Stuart (5 September 2013). "Toronto: Ian McKellen to Play Retired Sherlock Holmes in Bill Condon's 'A Slight Trick of the Mind'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  9. ^ a b c McNary, Dave (7 May 2014). "Laura Linney Joins Ian McKellen in 'A Slight Trick of the Mind'". Variety. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Barraclough, Leo (10 July 2014). "First Image of Ian McKellen in Bill Condon's 'Mr. Holmes,' Further Cast Revealed". Variety. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  11. ^ a b Yamto, Jen (9 July 2014). "Hiroyuki Sanada Joins Sherlock Holmes Drama 'A Slight Trick of the Mind'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  12. ^ O'Neal, Sean (19 March 2018). "Young Sherlock Holmes was Harry Potter before Harry Potter". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  13. ^ Plumb, Ali (21 August 2014). "Exclusive: Nicholas Rowe To Cameo In Mr Holmes". Empire. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  14. ^ Hall, Gina (3 September 2014). "Miramax Acquires Elderly Sherlock Tale 'Mr. Holmes,' Starring Ian McKellen and Laura Linney". TheWrap. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  15. ^ "Principal photography began in UK 5 July 2014".
  17. ^ Fletcher, Harry (9 July 2014). "See Ian McKellen as a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes". Digital Spy. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  18. ^ Kent Film Office (8 June 2015). "Kent Film Office Mr. Holmes Article".
  19. ^ "Carter Burwell to Score Bill Condon's 'Mr. Holmes'". Film Music Reporter. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  20. ^ Patten, Dominic (22 May 2015). "'Mr. Holmes' Lawsuit: Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Sues Bill Condon & Distributors". Deadline. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  21. ^ Johnson, Ted (4 September 2015). "'Mr. Holmes' Lawsuit Reaches Settlement, Says Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Attorney". Variety. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  22. ^ "Mr. Holmes". 17 July 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  23. ^ "Mr. Holmes (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  24. ^ "Mr. Holmes Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  25. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (19 July 2015). "'Ant-Man' Shrinking Below Its $60M Weekend Projection – Saturday Update". Deadline Hollywood.
  26. ^ "Mr. Holmes Review". IGN. 15 June 2015.
  27. ^ The Indiana Film Journalists Association Begins Nominations Process for 2015 Awards
  28. ^ "Indiana Film Journalists Association - Winners on Page 11 [Archive] - AwardsWatch". Archived from the original on 16 January 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  29. ^ "The 42nd Annual Saturn Awards nominations are announced for 2016!". Saturn Awards. 24 February 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  30. ^ 2015 — St. Louis Film Critics Association