I’m sure I would have appreciated this film more had I known more about the character of Sherlock Holmes, but as I always say, “Outside knowledge should never make or break a piece of art, it should only increase your appreciation of it.” I was still able to enjoy this film with my limited background.
The film begins with the uncovering of Dr. Watson’s other more personal records of his time with Holmes. We then go back to Holmes and Watson who aren’t in the middle of a case and are in fact bored. During these periods Holmes turns to cocaine. Holmes lives for the case, but doesn’t know what to do with himself when there isn’t one. Having made this point, the film then turns to the more central question about Holmes.
Holmes is invited to a performance of Swan Lake by the Russian ballet. He is invited backstage by the female star who through her translator informs Holmes that after going through a dozen other notable men she has been forced to choose him for marriage. Ultimately, Holmes gets out of it by telling her that he and Watson are an item. Holmes leaves while Watson is having a great time dancing with the female ballet dancers. Soon one of the dancers is told about Holmes and Watson and as the rumor spreads the female dancers are slowly replaced by the male dancers. It’s a very funny scene that sends Watson angrily back to the flat where he has it out with Holmes. From there we go into the bulk of the film, as Watson recalls a mystery that reveals Holmes relation to women. The mystery is interesting on it’s own, but it’s not the point.
I won’t reveal the details of the case or what it says about Holmes except to say that it helps to humanize the mechanical case solver.