Elementary, my dear Frodo.
Sometimes, something makes so much sense that you can’t believe it hadn’t happened before; Sir Ian McKellen playing Sherlock Holmes in a movie is one of those things. Now the disconnect between the two British legends is no more: McKellen, at 74, will portray the legendary detective in the film adaptation of Mitch Cullin’s novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, which will be directed by the Oscar winner Bill Condon.
The plot was described thusly in a release sent out early Thursday:
In 1947, Sherlock Holmes, long retired, lives in a sleepy Sussex village with his housekeeper and her amateur-sleuthing son. But far from living out a peaceful retirement, he is haunted by an unsolved case from fifty years ago. He remembers only fragments: a confrontation with an angry husband, a secret bond with his beautiful but unstable wife.
With his legendary mental powers on the wane, and without his old sidekick Watson, Holmes is faced with the toughest case of his life — a case that might finally reveal to him the mysteries of the human heart.
Condon provides sweet connection with our current favorite Sherlock Holmes, as he directed Benedict Cumberbatch in the Julian Assange biopic The Fifth Estate, which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival Thursday night. McKellen and Condon have worked together to great success before, on 2001’s Gods and Monsters, for which McKellen earned an Oscar nomination for acting and Condon won Best Screenplay.
This certainly promises to be different than the Robert Downey Jr. adaptation, to say the least. It should also prove to be a world away from CBS’s Johnny Lee Miller-led, Sherlock-in-New York adaptation, Elementary. There are a lot of Sherlock Holmes adaptations these days.
McKellen’s fall is filled with theater; he just finished a run in Berkeley of Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land with his friend Sir Patrick Stewart, and they are bringing the show — along with Waiting for Godot — to New York in October. They also recently wrapped up the latest X-Men movie. How this will impact his role as the newest member of One Direction remains to be seen.
The movie will be co-produced in part by See-Saw Films, which was behind The King’s Speech. Icon/AI Films will co-produce and finance the project.