16 September 2001 | BaronBl00d
Kicking the Habit
Sherlock Holmes falls into a maisma of self-pity and paranoia through his repeated and continued use of a seven percent solution of cocaine. His faithful Watson and brother Mycroft concoct a scheme for him to go to Austria to meet Sigmund Freud, who can help him with his drug addiction. This is a brilliant film in many ways, and also a flawed film. The film is decidedly fresh with its coupling of Holmes and Freud, and its script which explains many of Holmes's character traits through a psychological examination of his character. The script by Nicholas Meyer is first-rate. The direction by Herbert Ross is also very good as it blends humour with mystery, as well as an introductory course in Freudian psychology. Nicol Williamson is a wonderful Holmes. He is precise, calculating, ego-maniacal, and blessed with just a tint of "real" madness. Williamson also is very adept at plowing through the dialogue with witty zeal. Arkin does almost as well as Freud. Arkin plays off Williamson very nicely and adds his own subtle kind of humour. The scene the two men share upon their first meeting is one of perfection of timing. The rest of the cast, however, is a bit weak, or serves as nothing more than scenery. Robert Duvall has to be one of the worst Watsons I have ever seen on screen before. He is so bland in the role, TOO stiff upper lip and his British affectation of speech sounds just like someone trying to imitate a Britisher. He also limps far too much. Joel Grey is wasted in his small role, as is Vanessa Redgrave(looking stunning if nothing else). Samatha Eggar is there just two or three minutes for absolutely nothing). Laurence Olivier does a nice job as a different Moriarity than we are used to, and character Jeremy Kemp is adequate as a wealthy Prussian villain. The next best thing for me in terms of acting after Williamson and Arkin has to be Charles Gray as brother Mycroft(a role he would reprise in the Granada Sherlock Holmes series with Jeremy Brett). Gray was a wildly under-appreciated actor. He gives a wonderfully eccentric performance. The film has a great climatic ending, a rollicking musical score, and some tense, suspenseful action. It also makes the most famous character in all of fiction a little more human to all of us. Good stuff!