Sherlock Holmes – Review


A friend and I enjoyed the new Sherlock Holmes film last night so I thought I’d write up a quick review.

In typical Guy Ritchie style this film comes at you with lightening speed – in some places it’s too fast to follow.  But I’ve never seen a Guy Ritchie film that I didn’t want (and need!) to see twice, so I’ll probably return to this one with my husband this weekend.

I am a complete sucker for period production, especially late 19th century London.  Even though much of the visual context is clearly computer generated, I’ll be watching the film again just to enjoy the Dore-like detailed gloom.

The visual elements are under total control.  Sepia and navy blue dominate with accents of warm browns and deep burgundies.  The most overt color moment is our introduction to Irene Adler.  Before we see her we get glimpses of her dress and our brains are immediately cued for “Oh, here comes the girl, the love interest”.  As the color registers further the brain says, “Ah, seductress!”  Only then do we get the full image of Rachel McAdams in a gown of – what color is this really?  Its saturation in the context of all we’ve seen thus far is almost overwhelming.  And yet it’s not quite what you would expect.  It’s not red.  It’s not hot pink.  It has very strong blue tones – an intense mauve – if there is such a thing.  This unexpected color does two things – it ties in with the rest of the film’s visuals by picking up the blues while signaling the emotional and symbolic content of “a women in red”.  But it is also ambiguous.  This shift towards the blue-purple makes you hesitate to categorize Irene just as you struggle to categorize the color.  Brilliant.

Following this scene Irene’s costumes join the rest of the production’s neutrals and navy blues – with just the occasional touch of deep red to remind us of her role.   I’ll say no more on that lest I say too much.

Another subtle color theme is a recurring Persian/royal blue.  Again the context of neutrals shows off the nearly magical quality of this color that occasionally appears in symbolic mosaic tile, upholstery and carpet.  It is a needed relief from the otherwise consistent grays, browns, mahoganies and navies.  It hints at authority with a touch of the mystical.

Overall I’ll give this film a 4 out of 5 stars.  Robert Downey Junior and Jude Law play well together.  Mark Strong has a perfectly villainous voice and Rachel McAdams looks great in dark, smoky eyeshadow. Occasionally RDJ’s cotton-wooled British accent is mumbled so quickly the words never register.  But I suggest you just relax and enjoy the action and the fun.  The details will all come clear in the end – in true Guy Ritchie/Sherlock Holmes fashion.


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