ENOLA HOLMES gets 7/10 A breath of fresh air to Baker Street

Directed by Harry Bradbeer
Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Sam Claflin, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter
Network: Netflix

Enola Holmes is based on the first book of the same name by Nancy Springer, and follows the story of Sherlock’s teenage sister, who sets forth to London in search of her missing mother. Originally planned for a theatrical release, the distribution rights to the film were sold to Netflix due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Millie Bobby Brown stars as the titular character, and is one of the producers. The movie deploys an interesting style of storytelling, where Enola breaks the fourth wall rather consistently and with the quick-witted gusto of her older brother, Sherlock (Henry Cavill). Fans of the original source material may be surprised (for good or bad) in the retelling’s personification of Sherlock – who shows a more empathic side for his family, and an almost jovial aspect despite his keen eye for detail.

An interesting side note, is that this representation struck up some controversy with the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – as only in his later works did Sherlock start to show this emotional side, and so various entities associated with this concept (Nancy Springer, Netflix, etc) were sued due to copyright and trademark infringement, as this characterisation is yet to fall into the public domain.

The editing style is reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes (2009) by Guy Ritchie, in how Sherlock and Enola deduce their surroundings, in a pastiche framework of characters and settings. Every short, and well-orchestrated memory which Enola provides of her teachings and childhood, aid as clues for the audience, consistently making them a part of the investigation.

Not only is Enola Holmes a story of empowering women, and championing the individual, it also explores a person’s perceived place in society – encouraging one chartering their own purpose, separate from external expectations. For a story that, on its surface, plays to that of a young adult novel and feel-good film, Enola Holmes has surprising moments that are both dark, mature, and poignant.

Discussions on ancestral landowners, and the honour that the gentry must uphold in England, provide undertones of climate change and environmental protection during an age suffering under political and commercial gain – mirrored in the suffragette movement which is a visceral point in the investigations of Enola and Sherlock respectively. As Mycroft Holmes (Sam Claflin) put it, “Last thing this country needs are more uneducated voters.”

At its core, Enola Holmes is a beautifully rambunctious tale of activism, strength of will, and the strong bonds between mother and child. Audiences will find, at one point or another, an endearing theme that strikes a chord with them. Enola Holmes bookends the film with three small phrases: Finding Freedom, My Life is My Own, and the Future is Up to Us. It sums up the sentiment of the movie well, with a message that feels relevant in 2020.


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