When the name Sherlock Holmes is mentioned, few names are thought of immediately. Famously there is Dr. Watson, Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard, and his arch nemesis Professor James Moriarty. These are all well known names whether a book about Sherlock has been read or not. That kind of staying power is rare these days, in fact Sherlock is the most portrayed literary character in film and television history. There is little to no mention from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about Sherlock’s family history or even a wisp of information that he has a little sister. The only mention of any type of family is Mycroft, who is Sherlock’s elder of 7 years.
Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) was created by author Nancy Springer as a mistake child and younger sister to Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin). When their mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) goes missing and only leaving ciphers for Enola to solve, Sherlock & Mycroft’s mission is to force Enola into finishing school. Eudoria raised Enola differently to societies expectations. Enola is taught unconventionally about things women in that time period normally wouldn’t learn – from chess to jujitsu.
Disguised as a boy, Enola escapes her brothers and follows a set of clues’ left behind by her mother. Enola spelt backwards is “Alone”. It’s how Enola feels majority of the film regardless if it’s self-imposed. She feels abandoned by her mother who is portrayed as her best friend in every single flashback and rightly so, her mother left her but gave her the tools to solve the mystery. In her travels, Enola saves Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) who she finds hiding in a bag. The story shifts as Tewkesbury leaves an imprint on Enola after the two separate in London. Enola, not realizing what’s happening is given her first real mystery to solve.
“We have two problems, as I see it. One, finding a boarding school that is willing to take Enola on, so she won’t be a complete failure in this world. That I am in the process of solving, with the help of an old friend. And two, finding mother. The first is my problem, the second I consider yours.”
Gender roles are a major theme in this film. Enola is taught to break that mold and be an individual in that Victorian era of England. It’s not common practice and that is why this film is compelling. The exploration of individuality is fascinating in the concept of Enola Holmes. She wants to think for herself and be what she decides. Who needs school when she has her own company. It’s a lesson that we all should follow. No one should settle for anything less than they deserve and Enola makes that her mission. The messages are clear and present from the moment we are introduced to Enola, who breaks the fourth wall throughout the film.
Breaking the fourth wall is an interesting choice for this film. It can be detrimental to a film’s success. Deadpool is an excellent example of using the rules of the fourth wall successfully where as Da Five Bloods (in my subjective opinion) uses it unsuccessfully. It makes Enola feel more relatable and personable as if we’ve known her, her entire life. If anything Enola is capable of holding her own, she’s fierce and independent and doesn’t care what society tells her is right – she is determined to make her own path and stick to her morals.
If one thing is certain Millie Bobby Brown is transitioning from child actor, playing Eleven in “Stranger Things” to a successful adult actor. Brown is charismatic and electric on screen; she is able to hold her own with Cavill and Claflin and outshines both of them in some scenes. Brown radiates off screen. Her performance feels airy and free spirited. Identity is a major party of Enola Holmes. All her life she’s lived in the shadows of her brothers – this is her coming of age, this is how she becomes Enola who is never truly alone.
Mixed in with quest to find herself is a political undertone. England is on the verge of history and Enola inadvertently pushes history along in the midst of her emancipation from her family. Brown and Partridge have great chemistry together and it radiates into their performances.
For what it is Enola Holmes is a fun and charming film given the latest releases Netflix has put out. It’s a delightful tale for its target audience but its clever enough to draw more people in that normally wouldn’t go for a film of this caliber. Its well-paced thanks to the screenplay by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child).
“So if I am to fit in and stay hidden from my brothers, I must become something unexpected.”
Where the issues come in, (and there aren’t many issues) is the unsatisfactory feeling of the ending. Enola spends most of her time with Tewkesbury that it takes away from her main focus. Her mother’s disappearance takes the backseat when it has been the featured mystery from the beginning. I didn’t feel any closure from it leaving the film incomplete. The plot line of the secret society Eudoria was involved in is poised to play a major role in her absence but that story line isn’t fully realized leaving us to wonder what could have been. Was it just a distraction or if there is a sequel, will it play a bigger role in any mystery that comes afoot?
What is under appreciated in this film is the world building Enola Holmes brings. We get to see a different perspective of the world Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created and it’s a breath of fresh air with the number of stories that are produced about Sherlock. Director Henry Bradbeer shines a new light in a world that has felt closed off letting a new star emerge.
Cavill gives a more real and grounded portrayal of Sherlock. So much so that the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle filed a lawsuit against Netflix for infringing on their rights. The depiction of an emotional Sherlock does not yet fall in the public domain as Sherlock only has this character trait in stories published between 1923 and 1927. Cavill Is almost too handsome to play Sherlock – it’s almost unfair to everyone else.
Overall, Enola Holmes is charming and delightful. It’s smart & intelligent and it makes the audience feel that way. Millie Bobby Brown only proves she is ready for stardom and gives an impactful performance. Its landscapes are gorgeous to behold, and the costume design is impeccable. Even with a few unsatisfactory thematic plotlines, the film is able to inspire a generation with its individuality and while breaking free from what society tells you is normal. If I were to rate Enola Holmes, I’d rate it a 4 out of 5.
So, tell me guys, have you seen Enola Holmes and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
Enola Holmes is directed by Harry Bradbeer is Rated PG-13 and has an 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Enola Holmes was released on October 23th, 2020 and has a runtime of 2 hours and 3 minutes. Enola Holmes can be streamed on Netflix
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