Crime is like a game of poker: just bluff and blush a little bit
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH — SHERLOCK — THE ABOMINABLE BRIDE — BBC — 2015
This story standing all by itself is original in a way because it shifts constantly from what happens in the modern world and what happened a century ago or more. It is nothing but the story of a wife killing her husband but the murderess knows about the stories of the old Sherlock Holmes and she is going to trap him in an old story indeed, that of the abominable bride.
Sherlock shifts from one period of time to another by using some drug, cocaine or heroin is not the point, to reach a state of consciousness that makes him cross centuries. And he is going to solve the case by this plying between the present and the past. He will be induced into believed Professor Moriarty is back and he will have to go back to that special event when he “dies” the first time in the water chute somewhere in Switzerland within a confrontation with Moriarty there.
This visit to the past event will give him the true answer to the question: Is Moriarty still alive? After all, why not since Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are themselves still alive. Then the present crime is nothing but a simple riddle for primary school children that Sherlock Holmes solves in two seconds, maybe less.
This passing from the 21st century to the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century gives the story some dynamism and makes the suspense eventful and active. It even enables the film to give the possibility to suffragettes of the older time to speak their minds against the male dominated society they live in.
That’s good and entertaining. But from the outside, since we are the audience hence outside the plot itself, it is quite common place to suspect the wife of a murdered husband, and the situation is so simple that there is no other suspect and no other solution. That makes the whole film an attempt to wrap a very simplistic story into a complicated set of slips, underdresses and dresses, and we, like mice in a big wheel of Swiss cheese, get lost in the lace.
So this film works because we are such a good audience that we forget to remain critical and attentive. Just what Sherlock Holmes constantly says: keep awake, keep attentive, keep concentrated, don’t scatter your brain power. But unluckily we do, and actually luckily for the film itself.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU