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Cinema in Focus: ‘Sherlock Holmes’

The adventures of Holmes and Watson are portrayed in a dark cinematic style that matches the mysterious plot

2 Stars — Disturbing

Though all of us realize that even the greatest human beings are flawed, director Guy Ritchie’s presentation of famed detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) depicts him as a lonely and isolated alcoholic.

Troubled in love and bored by life, Holmes’ renowned skills at observation and logical deductions have become as much a curse as a blessing. However dark and disturbing this movie may be, its intrigue is ingenious.

Accompanying Holmes in his adventures is Dr. John Watson (Jude Law). A handsome physician who is attempting to free himself from their unhealthy relationship and begin married life, Watson is also presented as flawed in his addiction to gambling. The duo are mutually supportive in their work as well as in their attempts to deal with their addictions.

The villain of the film comes from a secretive group that manipulates government and society. Believing in magic, this group’s superstition is turned against them by Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), whose ritual conception gives him special status and ambition. When Blackwood uses ritual murders to enhance his power and prestige, Holmes gets involved in finding and stopping him. But the turn of the tale is far from predictable and takes us into the darkness of a criminal mind and occult practices.

The two ladies of the film are Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) and Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly).

Adler is a world-class thief who holds the distinction of being the only criminal to outsmart Holmes — twice. The allure of her beauty and intellect attracts Holmes even though he knows he can’t trust her, while her interest in him is a major part of the plot.

Morstan is the fiancée of Watson. At first, Morstan is enamored with Holmes, but she quickly realizes that his unusual hold on Watson is a competition she didn’t expect. This highlights the depth of their bond and their inability to live a normal life.

We won’t spoil the mystery or reveal the twists in the relationships, but the dark nature of this film cinematically and topically is disappointing. That is not to say that the quality of the acting, writing, casting and directing are lacking.

It’s a film with cinematic quality that outshines its storyline. It’s a film that many will enjoy watching, but it’s lack of spiritual and moral values is disturbing.


» The belief that there is a secret organization controlling our institutions is a common fear. Do you believe there is such a “skull and bones” conspiracy? Why or why not?

» The attraction that Holmes and Adler share suffers from their lack of trust. Do you believe that a couple who lack trust can overcome this and have a healthy relationship?

» The mutual support that Holmes and Watson provide for each other is only moderately effective in helping each of them deal with their addictions. Why?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit

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