Review: ‘Enola Holmes’
By: Arpit Nayak
Cinema has often adapted the stories of iconic books. At times it is mostly successfully, but sometimes not. One of the adaptations that is the most loved and admired is Sherlock Holmes; the tale of it we have seen in books, television series, and films. The film “Enola Holmes” is about his youngest sister, who is adapted from the first part in a six-book series by Nancy Springer.
The story is set in England in 1884, centering on 16-year-old Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown), the only sister of Sherlock Holmes. She was raised in the English countryside by her unconventional mother, Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), who is much concerned with women’s rights and decides to give her daughter an education in with men. The result of it makes Enola trained in fighting, science, ciphers, chess, and she is a compulsive reader at the public library.
Enola’s life changes into chaos one morning when her mother, Eudoria, disappears. She leaves a series of puzzling clues that show her character as an independent-minded girl. Her two elder brothers, Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill) immediately return home to find out the mystery of the disappearance and deal with their sister.
While she has a steady understanding of Sherlock, Mycroft is the opposite of it. He decides to send her to boarding school to complete her education, but Enola has other plans. She wanted to find out what happened to her mother, so she escapes to London to search for her mother. She is a bright, confident, spirited young woman who is full of knowledge and wit. Still, she is not aware of an outside world that doesn’t value intelligent, independent, free-thinking women due to her isolated upbringing.
Speaking of cinematic aspects, director Harry Bradbeer cleverly adapts the witty style of audience communication to a young protagonist’s emotional variation. He brings a comparably fresh, straight approach to the story. Enola presents as her relater, often breaking the fourth wall. Simultaneously, Enola talks to the viewers or shoots knowing looks in their direction, making her reactions more personal and endearing. It’s tough to execute, but magical when done right; Bradbeer acquires this technique and uses it flourishingly.
The screenplay of Jack Thorne perfectly balances the famous character of Sherlock, where he is essential. Still, we know the focus on the story. Despite being a mystery film, he also celebrates courageous women who were ahead of their time. The narrative gives a realistic look at girls in the era who grow up in a society that restraint their extension and limits of what sort of women they can turn out to be. The music of Daniel Pemberton—with costumes design of Consolata Boyle and Michael Carlin’s production design—help the story to become a visual treat.
“Enola Holmes” is mainly lighthearted, but dreadful and unpredictably violent sometimes. The action does get an extraction. It has a prime focus on female empowerment. The lead character repeatedly gets underestimated based on her gender and young age. The film does not shy away from showing the mistakes made by her arrogant speculations. Where she comes across a boy, it shows her feelings in a human way. Enola is street-smart and quick-witted is enough to win any age group of viewers.
As Enola Holmes, Millie Bobby Brown is a breath of the film; her performance is magnificent. The way she moves to the way she delivers dialogue is a delight to watch on screen. As for Henry Cavil, he provides a fascinating, fresh take on Sherlock’s iconic role with style and charm. His chemistry with Millie Bobby Brown is perfect. Sam Claflin as Mycroft Holmes sets a quintessential tone with a well-assigned supporting cast including Frances de la Tour, Fiona Shaw, and Adeel Akhtar.
“Enola Holmes” works effectively with its endearing characters, neat dialogue, and captivating mystery; it does not deliver all the answers. Overall it’s a fun and breezy adventure story with thoughtful social commentary that falls into the ‘something for everyone category,’ which begs a sequel. The film releases September 23rd worldwide on Netflix.
Mark is the Managing Editor of The Movie Buff and started the site in 2011 with Matt DeCristo. He is a lover of cinema, his favorite genres being drama, horror, and independent. Follow Mark @The_Movie_Buff on Twitter for all site news.