If you go to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie, go expecting an over-the-top silly fantasy version of the venerable character. That way you won't be disappointed at how over-the-top, silly, and fantastical it is. You may also very well enjoy it. It's entertaining. A comparison came up that I thought was appropriate: It's kind of like Pirates of the Caribbean in its over-the-top silliness, but it's still entertaining if you let it be.

Aside from that general commentary, the one interesting interpretation I managed to spin out of it is that Sherlock Holmes has ADHD. It seemed quite clear to me, and I wonder if the character of Irene Adler wasn't a sly reference to the common nickname of people with ADD/ADHD as 'ADDled'.

Mild spoilers, nothing major. Just an interesting way to interpret the movie.

It hit me when Watson enters Holmes' apartment to find him in a dark, incredibly messy room, and Holmes having spent two weeks in isolation because he was too bored after his last case to bother to come out. Holmes needs the excitement and structure of an unsolvable mystery just to be able to function in life. Without the challenge, he's hopelessly distracted and disorganized. He easily falls into hyperfocus working on bizarre tangential experiments. He can't keep his mind still while waiting for dinner companions to arrive, constantly distracted by all of the minute observations he makes about the waiters and diners at the restaurant. He impulsively blurts out insulting comments when he probably shouldn't. At the beginning of the movie it appears he's totally helpless without the calm and orderly Watson to balance him out.

It takes action and danger to bring out the best in Holmes. The idea of a mystery fascinates him and he can't let it go, even if he has to risk his life to solve it. He has learned to harness his erratic attention into noticing the smallest details at a single glance. He follows his intuitions to build elaborate hypotheses about how the crime was committed. But he always needs Watson as his backup in case he gets himself in over his head, by following a thread of interest too far.

I actually wouldn't be surprised if Guy Ritchie intentionally made Holmes with ADHD, including the Adler reference. If you're familiar with Ritchie's psychological gangster movie Revolver, you may already be aware that he tries to embed deeper psychological subtext into his movies when he gets the chance. It's also commonly suspected that Ritchie has ADHD himself (google). Put these two together and the idea that Ritchie gave Holmes ADHD doesn't seem so implausible.

Edit: Apparently, Irene Adler is an original Conan Doyle character, of which I wasn't aware when I first wrote this. So, obviously that 'clue' is out. Still, it was only a minor point compared to the other things about Holmes himself.

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One of the things you have to remember about Sir Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, is that he was a cocaine addict - injected, not snorted or smoked. Dr. Watson was his connection.
True. ADHDers have a higher incidence of cocaine usage as a form of self-medication. It tends to calm the mind and give focus instead of the usual effect on a non-ADHD person of making one hyper and high. Cocaine's a stimulant after all, just like Ritalin and amphetamines. Makes perfect sense.




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