[Film Review] The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution poster.jpg

Title: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
Year: 1976
Country: UK, USA
Language: English, German, French
Genre: Adventure, Crime, Drama
Director: Herbert Ross
Screenplay: Nicholas Meyer based on his own novel
Music: John Addison
Cinematography: Oswald Morris
Cast:
Nicol Williamson
Alan Arkin
Robert Duvall
Vanessa Redgrave
Laurence Olivier
Jeremy Kemp
Joel Grey
Charles Gray
Georgia Brown
Samantha Eggar
Régine
Anna Quayle
Rating: 6.7/10

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution 1976.jpg

A jovial pastiche whisking away Victorian duo Holmes and Watson (Williamson and Duvall) to the Continent where they meets Dr. Sigmund Freud (Arkin), Herbert Ross’ THE SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION is a bizarre hybrid which can be divided into two, the first half concerns how Holmes is lured to Vienna, so that his inveterate cocaine addiction can be treated by Freud’s hypnosis therapy, when he passes the cold turkey, together, the trio will solve an abduction mystery about Lola Devereaux (Redgrave, exotically fragile) in the second half, which doesn’t require as much brain cell as brawn and fencing skills.

Tinged in a stonewashed palette, this period adventure takes the plunge to delineate Sherlock Holmes as an antsy motormouth haplessly subjected to of his jones, fanatically fixates on his erstwhile tutor Prof. Moriarty (Olivier), and names him as his nemesis (a subconscious reason will only be elicited by Freud near the coda). While sustaining Holmes’ intelligent astuteness (it is always beneficent to be washed over by his far-fetched trademark deduction, as if there is only one foolproof interpretation of everything under his preternatural faculty of observation), Nicol Williamson’s portrayal has something very endearingly human, like his sincere respect to his sidekick Watson, which is uncontaminated by the air of cynicism and detachment (emanated from Benedict Cumber and Robert Downey Jr.) in latter-day iterations.

Robert Duvall’s Watson is hindered by both his limpness in action and slowness in penseé, also not helped by his wavering British accent, meanwhile, Alan Arkin gives an unfeignedly poised, mellow impression as someone who can really challenge Holmes in the aspect of wits and hold an upper hand in the puzzle-solving situation, not to mention Arkin oozes sex appeal in his mustachioed suaveness.

An above-average fluff that toys with the idea of psychologizing Sherlock Holmes’ mentation by the vanguard in that field, only gives up half way to a more entertaining escapade. Visually Ross shows up his facility in the detective’s nightmarish withdrawal process where shaky, erratic shots are mingled with ominous imagined memento mori, and particularly stirring in a child’s low-light staircase ascending, tantalizing a past trauma that can take down our beloved sleuth from the lofty pedestal, or just almost.

referential entries: Nicholas Meyer’s TIME AFTER TIME (1979, 6.0/10), Thom Eberhardt’s WITHOUT A CLUE (1988, 5.3/10)

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