THE MOVIE (don’t worry, no spoilers)

Posted at Jan 1, 2010 10:23 am

Well, I brought in the New Year in the best way possible: at the movie theatres, watching Sherlock Holmes, which was released last night in Israel.
And let me just say:
The previews had not done the movie justice. 

In  Sherlock Holmes, Victorian London came alive in a way that I have never experienced before– but not with the steady clip-clop of horse hooves, rustling petticoats, and pursed lips over teacups.  This movie began with two black hansoms tearing down a narrow cobbled street and rolled through scene after scene of beautifully reconstructed East End London, ending with a stunning view of the Thames and Tower Bridge.  This was a fast-paced, gut-punching action film, but it was cerebral too, and it did justice to Doyle’s creation, albeit in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner.  I watched Sherlock Holmes knock the daylights out of square-faced thugs, but the sequences were narrated by Holmes’s thoughts and calculations, each punch was delivered with medical precision to maximize the impact.   I can’t stand watching boxing matches, but this film made those scenes interesting and fun. 

Although Robert Downey Jr. was no one’s conception of the original Sherlock Holmes, he seemed to embrace the role, and gave a fantastic interpretation of a character that’s already been interpreted to death.  He was both light-hearted and brooding, intelligent and silly; he made Holmes’s quirks almost adorable, and most importantly– he was funny.  He infused the detective with a naughty humor– and he made his friendship with Jude Law’s Watson live.  There was none of the master and his faithful dog about these two. Watson actually complemented his Holmes, instead of shivering quietly in his shadow.  Their crazy quarrels were the best part of the movie.

Most surprising of all was Holmes’s chemistry with Rachel McAdams’s Irene Adler.  Irene was completely "re-invented" in this film.  In the original story she was a pretty adventuress who outwitted Holmes and then vanished from his life.  In the movie she was some sort of shady female agent, half criminal/ half kick-boxer, who seemed to continually haunt the detective.  And yet– unbelievably, I did not find her annoying.  I hate hate hate "modernized" Victorian heroines, but somehow she never got under my skin.  And the sexual tension between her character and Robert Downey Jr. was just right: it was present– but not excessive.  

There now. That’s the best review which I can write, without spoilers, between clinic patients.
I’ve raved enough.  Go see it.
Then post a comment telling me what you think.   Happy New Year.        

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