“Enola Holmes” stars Millie Bobby Brown, Sam Claflin, Henry Cavill, and Helena Bonham Carter. Released on Netflix on September 23, 2020, the film chronicles the adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister.
The film is directed by Harry Bradbeer, who is known for directing several shows like “Killing Eve” and “Fleabag”. It is based on the book series The Enola Holmes Mysteries by Nancy Springer. For many years, Sherlock Holmes has solved many mysteries throughout London with his trustworthy sidekick Dr. Watson. Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes has become a cultural icon with his strong sense of observation and logical reasoning. However, there are specific cases that are so tough, one Holmes isn’t enough to crack them. If you’ve been following the history of Holmes for quite a while, you might have realized that he has relatives by his side, not just Watson. There’s his older brother Mycroft Holmes and surprisingly, his younger sister who hasn’t gotten the chance to be in the spotlight until now. This latest film involving Doyle’s characters takes the franchise in a different direction by placing its focus on Holmes’ energetic and determined sister. I’m not a huge Holmes fan myself, but I have watched several adaptations of the character, such as Guy Ritchie’s version and its sequel starring Robert Downey Jr., so my expectation for this new adaptation was pretty standard. With that in mind, let’s find out if this film is as exciting as solving actual mysteries.
Taking place during the Victorian era, the story follows the young sister of the famous Sherlock Holmes (Cavill). Enola Holmes (Brown) is a care-free and intelligent young woman whose beliefs are much different compared to the beliefs of other women, much to the dismay of her other brother Mycroft (Claflin). She’s inspired by her mother, Eudoria (Carter), who taught her almost everything such as jujitsu, reading books, and word puzzles. On her sixteenth birthday, Enola discovers that her mother has gone missing, leaving only her birthday gifts as her clues. Enola must use her trustworthy skills to travel to London and find her mother. Along the way, she encounters Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), a young lord who is targeted by a mysterious assassin. This is another adaptation that takes the Holmes lore in a light-hearted and family-friendly direction in order to attract people who are unfamiliar with the source material. Clearly, I’ve seen a couple of film adaptations that took this similar approach, most notably the “Gnomeo & Juliet” follow-up “Sherlock Gnomes” and the infamous “Holmes & Watson” back in 2018. Those films, in particular, struggled to crack the case in terms of living up to the concept’s potential. “Enola Holmes”, on the other hand, managed to solve it in a heartbeat. With a tight and fresh script by Jack Thorne and Harry Bradbeer’s quirky sense of direction, this is one of the better adaptations of “Sherlock Holmes” I have ever seen as well as one of the best surprises of the year. What I honestly liked about the film’s story was not just its fresh appeal and the colorful production design, but also the character of Enola. The film explores Enola’s growth by showcasing her personal journey to forge her own path in the midst of solving her first case during a time when women’s roles are automatically given to them. It can get a bit political with its themes, but it was balanced well with a fun and lively mystery that offers plenty of intrigue, twists, and heart, and who doesn’t love a fun mystery? Not every mystery needs to be serious, you know. After taking on supporting roles in “Stranger Things” and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”, Millie Bobby Brown finally takes center stage, both as the main lead and as one of the film’s producers, in what could be her biggest challenge in her career. Unsurprisingly, she was able to impress me without any problems at all. She delivered the right amount of attitude and charisma into her performance and her fourth-wall-breaking sequences, resulting in her being the best part of the film. If you love her in “Stranger Things”, you might love her in “Enola Holmes” as well. I also thought that Henry Cavill was perfectly cast as Sherlock. Everything about him was absolutely brilliant in my eyes. He’s got the physique, he’s got the looks, and he’s got the accent that screams “intelligence”. If his goal was to make himself known for other roles outside of Superman when it comes to film, I would say he’s getting there. Sam Claflin also did pretty well as Mycroft, although I wasn’t into the fact that they made the character a bit too much of a jerk, but that’s just me. Going back to the film’s direction, I enjoyed the fact that it respects the lore it’s based on while delivering an upbeat and peculiar perspective on it. While Guy Ritchie’s take on the source material offered an approach that’s gritty, stylistic, and action-packed, Harry Bradbeer delivered an approach that’s clearly the exact opposite, along with plenty of dialogue that’s easy to pay attention to. As for its flaws, I would say that the film can be a bit too stretched out for its own good, clocking in at around two hours. While the pacing in the first two acts was pretty consistent, the third act slowed it down just a tiny bit.
Overall, it’s no mystery that “Enola Holmes” is a highly-entertaining and spirited take on the world of Sherlock Holmes. Lead by an irresistible main lead, an engaging screenplay, and a fresh style that’s envisioned by Harry Bradbeer, the film is another case that deserves to be solved by its audience. This is an easy recommendation for those who are familiar with the source material and are in a mood for something light-hearted. There have already been talks about making it into a franchise for Netflix as of this writing, and all I can say about that is…I am ready if they are.