You’ve heard of Sherlock Holmes. You might even have heard of Mycroft Holmes. Now, are you ready for Enola Holmes?
This review will be SPOILER-FREE!
The recent Netflix movie follows the forgotten (non-canon) youngest Holmes sibling’s investigation of her beloved mother’s (Helena Bonham Carter) disappearance. On her journey, she must first devise a way out of her unrelenting, pompous brother Mycroft’s (Sam Claflin) clutches, who, as her legal guardian in their mother’s absence, would rather see her develop some sorely lacking ‘feminine grace’ at a finishing school for young women than actually listen to Enola’s (Millie Bobby Brown) wishes. Once ecaped, she travels to London, casually rescuing a young Lord from being assassinated on the way – you know, as one does, sometimes. Upon arrival at what she thought was her mother’s hiding place, a staggering discovery leads her down a different investigative path. A boy in mortal danger, a mother still missing, and genius brother Sherlock (Henry Cavill) on her heels, Enola has to juggle several plates at once in order to get answers to a whole deck of mysteries.
Though the fast-paced editing and expansive action sequences are a little reminiscent of RDJ’s Sherlock Holmes movies, Enola Holmes is, overall, a charming, sweet comfort watch. It is filled to the brim with upbeat music, brightly colored costumes and sets, and cute dialogue.
Though, the acting fell a little short, unfortuantely. We know Sam Claflin is a great actor but his performance here was almost camp. And I really wish Henry Cavill had a more challenging role in this film, even though he handles the distant-but-caring big bro role well. However, his portrayal of the famous detective apparently needed to be kept to a minium due to a certain lawsuit by the Conan Doyle Estate.
And good on Millie Bobby Brown showing off a more whimsical side of her acting as a classic plucky eighteenth-century heroine, even if it came across a tad too straightforward. You still want to root for this bright-eyes heroine that is so reminiscent of Nancy Drew. As a kid, I would have loved nothing more than to see a girl detective tear shit up!
None of the performances were able to escape a special kind of goofiness that permeated the film. I, unfortunately, had a hard time taking certain scenes seriously. For instance, what was supposed to be a hard-hitting dispute between Mycroft and Enola featuring heated shouting and desperate tears, completely failed to add any emotional wright. I suspect the rather young target demographic is to blame for a lack of gravitas even when dealing with death, power relations, and potential terrorism. But that is okay. Psychological depths and seriousness are not what we’re here for with this playful coming-of-age adventure story.
Another aspect where the film decided to forego subtlety comletely was the feminist sotryline. Enola Holmes is set in Victorian times where it was common for women to remain uninvolved in the public sphere. however, the film features an organized feminist group and Enola herself is used to portray a feel-good message of “sometimes you just gotta do your own thing”. It works for the movie becuase its goal is to show a plucky heroine’s exciting edventures and not the depressing reality of Victorian womanhood.
Even though the plot wasn’t exactly complex, the multiple story lines complemented one another nicely and I was invested in all of them. And since it’s such a sweet, light-hearted film, the silly shenanigans and various ridiculous escapes felt quite fitting. I’m also glad that there wasn’t really an actual romance subplot. They showed the tentative beginnings of one, but thankfully we got a heroine that didn’t follow this usual trajectory of being partnered-up in the end as some sort of resolution for her emotional character arc.
The wig department did our boy Tewkesbury (Louis Patridge) dirty, though. He looked more like a twelve-year-old skater boy forced to put on his Sunday best than someone about to take a seat in the House of Lords. Thank god they cut his hair after his introduction, though I’m not sure that “disguise” worked on anyone.
Oh my, who could ever see through the elaborate transformation brought about by hair three centimeters shorter than before. Inconceivable!
Since it was announced the HBO Max was adapting A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Patridge has been floated as a possible choice for the lead role as Monty, a privileged, flirtatious disaster of a boy on a tour through Europe.
I feel like Enola Holmes should have been released perhaps in November or December because it is a movie for the whole family to enjoy. It would be perfect for the holiday season, where you can cozy up with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate and indulge in the ultimate warm and fuzzies. Honestly, at the closing of 2020 we all need a feel-good movie or two and this is definitely on the list. And if you want more Enola, there is an entire book series that the movie is based on.