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Review: Enola Holmes Is A Fun Movie Carried By Millie Bobby Brown That Ultimately Disappoints

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BY October 1, 2020
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Netflix’s Enola Holmes is the newest original movie that looks to expand the world of Sherlock Holmes. With countless adaptations, remakes, reboots, and franchises in other media, Holmes is probably one of the most used fictional characters out there. What’s lesser-known, is the adventures of Holmes’ younger sister, from a series of more-recent books by Nancy Springer. The Enola Holmes review focuses on this new Holmes and the impact she has on the larger Holmes universe. Spoiler: it’s largely disappointing. 

Be warned, we’re going to spoil events of the story. So, if you want to watch it, do so with tempered expectations, then meet us back her to talk about it.

Sherlock Holmes and His Sleuthing Is World Famous

Enola Holmes review brothers. Image via Netflix.

The character of Sherlock Holmes, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is the subject of countless movies and TV shows. Everyone from Robert Downey Jr. to Sir Ian McKellen has played the character at some point. And there’s almost way too many franchises, live-action movies, series, and other content to keep track of, that features Holmes as the main character. He actually holds the Guinness World record for being the most portrayed literary human character in film and TV history. 

The original Holmes is a private investigator in Victorian-era London who has a unique talent for observing people and the most trivial details, with which he solves the biggest mysteries and crimes. However, the price for this talent is a cold and emotionally detached demeanor that is almost sociopathic. Many often compare his emotional mindset to be the same as the murderers and criminals he hunts. This combination makes Holmes an interesting character, thus it’s easy to see why there are so many incarnations of him. 

So when then Enola Holmes trailer released, I wondered how they can spin off a sisterly version of that character, in a charming and likable way, without the darkness of Sherlock. I was glad to see that they successfully do just that in this Enola Holmes review. But ultimately, it’s the story of the movie itself, and not the character’s depiction that is a letdown. 

Enola Holmes Adequately Reflects The Same Tone Of The Holmes Universe

Action Image via Netflix.

Enola Holmes is an adaptation of the series of books by Springer. It’s about the adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ little sister. The Netflix original starts off with a great introduction to the character. Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) is the youngest of the Holmes siblings, left behind in their family home with her mother. The infamous Sherlock and older brother Mycroft moved out after their father’s death, so Enola spent most of her life with her mother. Her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) raised Enola to be an independent, strong, and a well educated young woman, with none of the feminine traits that society required of her.

The story of the movie begins when Enola’s mother disappears, and she enlists her brothers’ help to find her. The brothers haven’t been in Enola’s life for years, so her being the young woman she’s become is surprising to them. Unable to find their mother, elder brother Mycroft (Sam Claflin) decides that Enola needs to go to a women’s finishing school, seeing her positive traits as negatives. Enola takes matters into her own hands, deciding to go investigate her mother’s disappearance. Thus prompting both Mycroft and Sherlock to begin looking for their sister, in their own unique ways.

How The Enola Holmes Review Differs From The Usual Sherlock

Enola Holmes review brothers. Image via Netflix.

Director Harry Bradbeer and screenwriter Jack Thorne solve, what I thought would be a problem, in the best way. While Sherlock is a complex and brooding character most of the time, Enola is almost the polar opposite. Right away she separates herself by breaking the fourth wall throughout the movie. As a result, she narrates the movie directly to the audience, along with hilarious looks and side glances to us during certain scenes as well. It’s a great way to showcase her bubbly personality in comparison to her brother’s, while still keeping the story fresh and interesting. 

The Young Adult nature of the books is clearly an influence in the movie, which is, for the most part, a bright and energetic story. It’s got with the usual tropes of Enola’s mismatch with a cute boy, many light-hearted moments, with fun and slapstick situations. Where the movie starts going downhill is in its story, which is needlessly complicated. 

The Story of Enola Holmes Is Confusingly Unnecessary

Enola Holmes review shock Image via Netflix.

During her search for her mother, Enola discovers that she is part of the Suffragettes, a movement fighting for the rights of women to vote. The discovery is shown as being a dark and deep secret that is ominous and seemingly disturbing. Enola finds a factory with literature and explosives. Conversations with her brother Sherlock (Henry Cavill) imply that her mother is ‘mixed up’ in something, and they show concern for her. The whole thing makes it look like Mother is doing something wrong. When in truth, she is fighting for something pretty noble and just. But the movie kind of makes it seems like it’s not. And never actually contextualizes anything behind the Suffragettes, really, for those unaware. It’s a gag, but the punchline falls flat. 

Tying into this subplot is a young boy who could cast the deciding vote about women voters. On the run from assassins, he comes across Enola by accident, who decides to help find his would-be killers. However, to do so, she has to put her search for mother to the side. So initially, it felt like one of those stories with multiple, seemingly separate storylines, that all converge in the end. Just like a usual Sherlock Holmes mystery. But that was not the case. Her mother’s intentional disappearance and participation in the Suffragettes movement apparently had nothing to do with the larger story. She appears in the end, with a vague ‘to-protect-you’ explanation. After which it’s somehow agreed that she’ll have to leave again, for some reason, and that’s the end of it. 

The New Netflix Original Completely Botches The Landing

Boy Image via Netflix.

It’s this ending that completely undermines everything that Enola Holmes goes through in the rest of the story. The purpose of the story is how she comes into her own as a detective, rivaling the skills of her brother. Which she somewhat accomplishes. But what we end up with, however, is a hodgepodge of situations, that never connect and an ending that is a total letdown. Enola going along with her mother’s vague reasoning is totally unlike the inquisitive and rational woman we saw through out. And the Suffragette movement never getting an explanation, made absolutely no sense, given its connection to the main story. 

Not to mention Henry Cavill doing his damndest to look emotionally detached, but having his natural charm betray him completely. Coincidentally, something that the movie is apparently also getting sued over. Enola Holmes tries to do a lot, with a story that has no need for political subplots that would completely go over the head of its Young Adult audience. If it just leaned totally into its light-hearted adventure story about a teenage girl, it would’ve been much more successful. Ironically, something that Netflix has had a lot of recent success with in movies like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Half Of It. 

The Shining Light Of Enola Holmes 

Sherlock Image via Netflix.

Millie Bobby Brown’s performance is quite possibly the best thing of this Enola Holmes review. The Stranger Things star does a complete 180 from that performance, as a charming, well-spoken, and bad-ass young woman taking on the world on her own terms. Brown’s energy and confidence in scenes with the much more experienced Cavil and Carter are a delight. As a result, she totally holds her own in screen presence and story significance. She’s the best thing about Enola Holmes and hopefully gets to play the character in better stories going forward. 

Enola Holmes is now streaming on Netflix.

So did you catch the newest iteration of the Holmes universe with Enola? Let us know what you thought in the comments below. 

Featured image via Netflix. 

MoviesPop CultureEnola Holmeshenry cavillNancy SpringerNetflix MovieSherlock HolmesSir Arthur Conan Doyle

Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.

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