Thursday, December 24, 2009

Robert Downey Jr. As Sherlock Holmes

"[Holmes] had no breakfast for himself, for it was one of his peculiarities that in his more intense moments he would permit himself no food, and I have known him to presume upon his iron strength until he has fainted from pure inanition."
-- from The Adventure of the Norwood Builder, in The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

Robert Downey Jr. playing Sherlock Holmes in the eponymous movie, which opens on Christmas Day, above.

I know that a movie about Holmes made today would have to be 'relevant' and more appealing to a mass audience, but the appeal of Sherlock Holmes was that he was not a muscular stud, he was more nerd or weirdo, a man who always appeared to be made entirely of tweed.

Do I disapprove of Downey Jr. doing a Holmes who struts and punches and bleeds like a man (!) -- like Brad Pitt in Fight Club? Of course not, but he is not the always-odd, remote, detached and cerebral, Victorian, Sherlock Holmes whom I grew up reading.

Holmes' appeal in part was because you were aware that he existed as a successful and accepted eccentric against the grey world of Victorian London. He was an outsider, the Other, in a tacit sense he might well have been gay. I guess (and I say this having not even seen the movie!) it's another example of the book-to-movie transfer that rarely seems to please those who know the characters from the book first.