Enola Holmes, 2020.
Directed by Harry Bradbeer.
Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Louis Partridge, Helena Bonham Carter, Burn Gorman, Susie Wokoma, Fiona Shaw, Adeel Akhtar and Frances De La Tour.
The teenage sister of famed detective Sherlock Holmes embarks on an adventure to track down their mother after she disappears without warning.
For over a century Sherlock Holmes has entertained readers and audiences with his mysteries and intellect, but now Netflix is introducing a new Holmes for audiences to dazzle over. Based on the young adult series from Nancy Springer, Enola Holmes follows the teenaged sister of Sherlock as she attempts to carve out her own path as a detective rather than follow the dictated path society has laid out for her and other women. With Millie Bobby Brown leading the film and Harry Bradbeer’s direction, Enola Holmes is a fun, charming and entertaining film that fits well in the Sherlock Holmes mythos.
Mostly known for her more serious role on Stranger Things, Brown trades in the seriousness for a lighter role as the strong-willed and quick-witted Enola Holmes. She is very charismatic in the role and carries herself well as she explores quite a lot of Enola’s eccentric personality. From her intelligence to her kindness and rebellious sarcasm, Enola is a very fun character to watch thanks to the energy which Brown plays with her. It would be tough for anyone to live in the shadow of Sherlock Holmes, but Brown makes Enola stand out from her older and more famous brothers with her behaviour and attitude.
One of the reasons Enola does stand out so much is due to the film’s narrative structure as Enola constantly breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the audience, sometimes relying the story and at others speaking through her thought process to let viewers in on her secrets. This aspect has the danger of getting old quickly or becoming annoying, but Brown makes it entertaining as she comes across very earnest and open, displaying a side to Enola only we get see. It draws the audience in more with Enola’s every explanation or side eye to the camera that would make The Office‘s Jim Halbert proud.
The supporting cast does well with their respective roles. Henry Cavill makes a great Sherlock, one that is a more traditional portrayal after the wild and scattered ones of Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch. Cavill is cool and collected, a stark image from his older brother Mycroft played by Sam Claflin, who is far more emotional and a little less intelligent than Sherlock. Claflin makes a great foil to Brown as he wants her to conform to the standards of 18th century women and he comes across as quite the ass at times. Helena Bonham Carter doesn’t have much to do as the Holmes matriarch, but she makes the most of her screentime with her monologues, bouncing between a funny and serious tone with her eccentric behaviour and sage advice.
Outside of the Holmes family there is Louis Partridge’s Tewkesbury, a young lord who is the subject of a manhunt after he runs away and finds an assassin searching relentlessly for him. Partridge and Brown make a nice pair with good chemistry as their friendship develops over the course of the story. It should be no surprise that Fiona Shaw is great as the strict and unforgiving headmistress of Enola’s finishing school, though the romantic sub plot between her and Mycroft feels a little too out of the blue and weird for both their characters. Burn Gorman doesn’t say much, but he still makes an impression as the assassin out for Tewkesbury’s blood while Adeel Ahktar is a nice and slightly bafoonish Lestrade. Susan Wokoma steals some of the scenes as Edith, a family friend to the Holmes’ who is supportive of both Enola and Eudoria while critical of Sherlock’s tendency to ignore politics in one of the film’s most memorable scenes.
The story moves along at a nice pace as it balances the mystery of Carter’s Eudoria Holmes whereabouts and why someone is trying to kill Tewkesbury. There are a couple points where the film slows down a bit too much and it is a little too long for what it is, but overall it progresses nicely as Enola becomes more capable and confident on her own. The only other shortcoming is how the mystery of what Eudoria is up to is left pretty open without a clear answer, clearly meant as a sequel hook while a little more information would have beneficial. Even that isn’t too aggravating though as it would be most welcome to see Enola return in another investigation. The film also contains plenty of timely themes as Enola works against what Mycroft and society expect of her and how outdated social norms should be challenged and changed. It doesn’t hit audiences over the head with its message, allowing the central mysteries and character development to take the focus, but it is also impossible to ignore as Enola struggles through and ends with a pretty positive endpoint.
Enola Holmes is a fun, charming and entertaining take on the Sherlock Holmes mythology with clear direction from Bradbeer and a great performance with Millie Bobby Brown as the young detesactive. The cast is strong together as Brown, Partridge and Cavill feed off each other well and the supporting players make the most of their time to deliver something entertaining and heartfelt. The pacing of the story could be improved in some areas with the runtime being trimmed as well, but it still works well for the most part. Any fan of Sherlock Holmes and detective mysteries will get a kick of out Enola Holmes and Brown’s performance.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.