If you haven’t seen Mr. Holmes (a film that was released in July but that I’ve just now got around to watching) I suggest that you put it in your Netflix queue.

The movie features a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes (excellent acting by Ian McClellan), who is attempting to solve his own dementia, as well as revisit some unsolved mysteries regarding the last case he solved, 30 years prior. His housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her son (Milo Parker) provide some further grist for Holmes’ musing on his last case. The film is set two years post-WWII (it has some decent historical color that way), and takes viewers through two different flashback scenes – one from 30 years prior, and a more recent trip Holmes made to Japan (including Hiroshima).



I found the film to be well-written, beautifully shot, and fun to watch. I also found it to be a film that would be worthy of showing to my students for the following kinds of discussions in ethics classes:

  • Theoretical and practical wisdom and their interplay
  • Memory and its importance for ethics (perhaps could be referenced with Augustine’s work on memory
  • Nature of communities and how they function (or don’t) for peoples’ moral formation
  • Death, dying, and old age (perhaps more obliquely)

Students are likely to find the film slow-going at first (but I think they’ll come round), and you may want to gauge how many of them have read Holmes mysteries or watched any of the TV series – or even read a mystery or two in class, though given the popularity of various fictional accounts of Holmes in recent years, it may not be necessary.