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Deduction/Destruction: Sherlock Holmes (2009) Review

The plot was good (though I expected more deduction, less destruction, if you know what I mean), the cinematography was beautiful, the music was great, and so forth.

With characterization, though I was a little offended that Watson became somewhat stronger in character, thus, actually, overriding the core of Watson in the short stories, the film-Watson eventually grew on me. He has his charms, and perhaps charms which do not appear in the Watson of the short stories. As with Holmes, he has done stranger things; he has changed a little, but not too much to be unrecognizable.

It is a bit strange that the film references a few quotes from the short stories, and yet it claims to exist in the same universe and continuity: So, do Holmes and Watson repeat themselves like that? Surely they realize they’ve said those exact same things before.

There are also a few problems with the internal logic of the film, which it shares among all the members of its genre.

Let me explain: The problem, I think, with Sherlock Holmes, and not just in the film, but in the general logic of crime solving genres, particularly the detective novel, is that it assumes a teleological stance; which is to say, it assumes all parts contribute to an organic whole, such that the investigation of parts will inevitably paint a picture of the whole precisely. This is a utopian ideal. The truth of the matter is, signifiers are more often than not ambiguous: One thing may mean many thousands of things, even in conjunction with others. So, when Holmes, in “A Scandal in Bohemia,” for example, deduces that Watson has spent some time in the rain and has a clumsy chamber maid because of some scratches on his shoes, we are not led to entertain other arguments: Perhaps there was simply a rock outside and he scraped it there, minutes before he entered Holmes’ house in famous Baker Street.

This belief is symptomatic of our desire for certainty and order in a universe which does not have order in its repertoire. While a certain amount of cause and effect may lead us to valid deductions, the truth is far more difficult to get hold of, and more often than not, these deductions are crude approximations, rather than distinct, precise impressions. I think this is the prime attraction of detective stories and the famous forensic procedurals on TV: It gives us a sense that through our reason, we can retain order.

Reason, of course, as we have known from the arrival of the post-structuralists, is so unfortunately overrated.

A 7 out of 10.

You may also want to check out the other Sherlock Holmes reviews from Sting Lacson and Mary Quite Contrary, or you may want to watch the trailer


I love your style, Cholo. Very intellectual. Hehe.

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