Film & TV

Film Review: Enola Holmes (Netflix)

Henry Cavill, Millie Bobby Brown, and Sam Claflin in Enola Holmes (2020) / Photo by Robert Viglasky / Legendary, Netflix / Taken from IMDb

Words by Pui Kuan Cheah

★★★

*Mild spoilers ahead!

You’ve heard of the detective Sherlock Holmes, but do you know of his younger sister? Don’t worry, you will. Thanks to Netflix’s new release Enola Holmes.

As the title suggests, the main character of the streaming platform’s new offering is the lesser-known sister of Sherlock. Based on the series of books The Enola Holmes Mysteries written by Nancy Springer, this film is just the entertainment we need right now, accompanied with pure, innocent fun. In the film, Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) wakes up on her sixteenth birthday to find that her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) has disappeared. It is because of this sudden absence that Enola’s two brothers, Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin), are called in. Basically, throughout the two-hour runtime, we follow Enola’s adventure in trying to solve the mystery of her mother.

Enola is the daring, strong-minded girl that women were just not encouraged to be in the Victorian era, during which this film is set in. Eudoria has taught Enola a variety of skills growing up that wouldn’t typically be viewed as ‘ladylike’. Think: jujutsu, hand-to-hand combat, chess, tennis. The list goes on and on.

The great thing about this film though, is that while it does push the feminist agenda multiple times, this isn’t done in a way that maligns men – which some other films are guilty of doing and ends up throwing off audiences. The men in this film aren’t portrayed to be ‘bad’ people, and I appreciate this from the creative team. The film simply shows that Enola is capable of taking care of herself, as her mother has shown her the ways of self-defence and the power of intellect. Conventional attitudes are constantly imposed on her, but this is untamed female strength at its finest – she simply won’t bow down to them. 

Even by the end, while there is a hint of a love interest situation going down between Enola and Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge – he and Brown’s chemistry is deserving of an A+), nothing really happens between the two besides a blossoming friendship emerging. Hooray to a teenage film without a romantic subplot (yet)!

The star of the film is definitely the leading lady herself, Millie Bobby Brown. Already a Netflix darling with her role in the little show Stranger Things, she shines in the role of Enola. The charisma she exudes through the screen is absolutely captivating to the audience, drawing you in scene after scene to feel like you’re part of this perilous journey. Every time Enola breaks the fourth wall is a delight, and this all boils down to Brown’s performance. 

It would be sacrilege to discuss this film but not mention the work put out by actors Cavill and Claflin. With the little time both are on screen, especially Sherlock which one might expect more of (but after all it isn’t *his* film), they manage to make me want to see more of them. Cavill is able to carry off the calm and collected character, and so does Claflin with his pompous character – who I couldn’t really take too seriously with that outrageous moustache of his. After all, he seemed more of a caricature of a strict, eldest brother type.

I will say though, that something about Eudoria Holmes’ story seemed unfinished. We only briefly see her at different points in the film, and never get to understand much about her besides what we are told by other characters. This is odd, seeing as how Eudoria is the one who serves as the motivation for Enola’s journey throughout. Nonetheless, this can be excusable in that it could be a set-up for future sequel(s).

Wonderfully British and full of wit, Enola Holmes’ script is bound to make you chuckle at many points during your viewing. While the film is by no means a stellar work of art, it still manages to entertain. It seems to be more targeted at teenage girls, but it definitely doesn’t come off as a juvenile film, making it a worthwhile watch for adults alike that wouldn’t end up a bore. If there is indeed a sequel announcement coming up, or even a developing television series, I wouldn’t be surprised. And I would be up for it.

Enola Holmes is now available on Netflix.

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