Movie Review: ‘Enola Holmes’

Review by James Lindorf

Sherlock Holmes is the world’s most renowned detective and has been since he was created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 133 years ago. Doyle brought the character to life in four novels and 56 short stories. Since then, he has made his way into numerous works written by over 100 authors, not to mention the four dozen film adaptations. In the last ten years alone, he has been played by Johnny Lee Miller, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey Jr, and Sir Ian McKellen. Well, it is time for the famed detective to take a step back and make way for his sister Enola Holmes. American author Nancy Springer created the sibling investigator in 2006 in her tale of “The Case of the Missing Marquess.” Now, Netflix is adapting that first book with the title “Enola Holmes,” which stars Millie Bobby Brown as Enola, Henry Cavil as Sherlock, and Sam Claflin as Mycroft, the eldest of the Holmes children. The movie will premiere on the streaming service on September 23rd.

Enola is the perfect heroine for girls and young women. Like Brown, Enola is 16 years old; she is endlessly precocious, smart, funny, bold, and a bit of a mess. Her mother has disappeared on the morning of her 16th birthday. She is caught between the person her mother raised her to be, and the young lady society and her brothers believe she should be. To solve the case of the missing Marquess and discover what happened to her mother, Enola must first learn who she is and what she is capable of. You can feel the love Brown has for the character and how much fun she is having pouring off the screen. If this becomes the franchise it is dying to be; it will surpass Stranger Things as the role she is known for.

Harry Bradbeer was a good but somewhat surprising choice to direct the film. His experience working on Fleabag and Killing Eve prepared him well for a story of a talented young woman who is capable of kicking butt, all while being vulnerable. However, he doesn’t have experience making a film of this scope with such a star-studded cast. Claflin and Cavil don’t have near the screen time as Brown, but they make their presence known when Brown isn’t stealing the scene. The entire cast giving quality performances is one of the hallmarks of good directing and one that can’t be excessively helped or hindered by other factors, including editing. Bradbeer deserves a shot at more large-scale pictures and should be asked back for the inevitable Enola sequel.

The screenplay by Jack Thorne (Wonder) is where the movie could use a little help. Enola breaks through enough 4th walls; it would make Deadpool blush. In the future, she needs her own Watson to bouncer her ideas off of, and more importantly, Thorne should put for faith in the audience. There is zero subtext in Enola Holmes; everything is text. Everything thought, idea, and emotion are explained, which is suitable for the youngest audience members but takes away some level of engagement from adults and older teens. Thorne brought girl power t the Victorian era with his take on Enola but may have done the character a small disservice by maintaining the love interest plotline. Her mom is missing, someone has tried to kill her on multiple occasions, she is in a new city, and her brothers are trying to decider her future. She has enough going on without the predictable first crush being introduced. The saving grace is that Brown and Louis Partridge have good chemistry and banter. There is also one mystery too many in “Enola Holmes,” which divides the attention, leaving both a little underwhelming to various degrees. Cutting one and making a 90-minute movie or deepening the mystery over the same runtime would be the best way to go in future installments.

“Enola Holmes” brings a breath of fresh air to the world of Sherlock Holmes by taking his powers of deduction and sharp wit and combining it with the youthful energy and emotion her older brother sorely lacked. She is a character that deserved a great movie, and we were given a pretty good one. All of my complaints are in the realm of nitpicking because it is easy to see that with a few tweaks, “Enola Holms” would be right up there with the best of the Netflix Originals.

Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery and Thriller
Original Language: English
Director: Harry Bradbeer
Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavil, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter and Fiona Shaw
Release Date (Streaming): Sep 23rd, 2020

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