Monday, 3 August 2015

Sherlock Scribbles: Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking

Last month I kicked off a new series of posts looking at different Holmesian adaptations with a look at 2002's The Hound of the Baskervilles. This month I'm following it up with its semi-sequel made in 2004. Unusually, while the actor of Holmes isn't carried over, Watson is, with Ian Hart reprising his role from the previous production.

Starring: Rupert Everett (Sherlock Holmes), Ian Hart (Doctor Watson), Jonathan Hyde (George Pentney), Helen McCrory (Mrs Vandeleur) and Michael Fassbender (Charles Allen)

Synopsis: In 1902, a new terror has struck the fog-bound streets of London in the form of a serial killer who is murdering young debutantes. Can the estranged Holmes and Watson come together to solve the case of the silk stocking?

Doyled or Spoiled?: With an original storyline, very litle of the plot is dervied from Doyle although Holmes often quotes directly from the stories (e.g. 'I cannot make bricks without clay,' 'Watson, you are the one fixed point in a changing age' ETC). Much like Hound, it also presents Holmes taking drugs during a case - including using opium, rather than just morphine or cocaine.
The biggest departure from the canon, however, is the identity of Watson's fiancee. Rather than the books (and most adaptations) he does not marry Mary Morstan but rather Jennifer Vandeleur, an American psycho-analyst. Similar to other modern versions - the Downey Jr films and Sherlock - Holmes is at first jealous of his best friend finding a(nother) partner before being won over by her.

Highlight: 100% Rupert Everett. A much better Holmes than Hound's Roxborough, he's something of a proto-Sherlock (interestingly, the special even uses the same font as the series) with his Cumberbatchian anti-social behaviour and snarky sense of humour. Although he lacks the manic energy of the best Holmeses, he absolutely looks the part and it would have been fascinating to see him take on the role in an adventure that more closely looked at Holmes' character. 

Verdict: An enjoyable if not totally successful Holmes adventure. While the storyline could have done with more inspiration from the canon, the film's great strength is how it really evokes the setting of Edwardian England, with the rich partying at debutante balls while murderers lurk in the treacherous fog. Likewise, the key relationship between Holmes and Watson is better handled here than in its predecessor although not entirely fixed, being much less prickly if not quite warm. In fact, the most interesting pairing of the piece must be that of Holmes and young girl Roberta who the detective seems to take under his wing. As such, while it is much better than the tepid Hound, my main gripe is that the plot, involving the hunt for a sexually-deviant serial killer, is much too modern crime drama and too little Sherlock Holmes to be completely satisfying.

Rupert Everett's smooth-as-silk Holmes saves the day in this pastiche

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