Enola Holmes Review: Charming but Predictable

Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things is a producer on the new Netflix release Enola Holmes. (Photo: Gage Skidmore 2018)

Roar writer Aurora Sosveen reviews the new Netflix film, Enola Holmes.

Enola Holmes recently premiered on Netflix, starring Millie Bobby Brown, Sam Claflin, Henry Cavill, and Helena Bonham Carter. Brown is most famous for her role in Stranger Things and the 16-year-old has now added to her merits by being a producer on the film. The star-studded cast might be reason alone to watch the film – Brown’s performance is particularly striking – but while it is entertaining enough to keep you from checking your phone, it does not keep you on the edge of your seat.

As the name suggests, Enola Holmes is indeed a (non-canonical) relative of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. The film is based on a book series by Nancy Springer in which we meet Sherlock’s and Mycroft’s much younger sister, Enola. Because of this, the viewer should not expect a Sherlock Holmes-centred plot, or any canonical accuracies. Any self-declared Holmes fan would in fact note a vast number of inaccuracies, and while this may be frustrating to some, it is fairly easy to treat this as an alternative Holmes-universe. In doing so, you save yourself a lot of frustration and might actually enjoy the film.

In this alternative Holmes-universe (or should we call it a Holmes-verse?) Enola has grown up almost completely isolated with her mother as her closest companion. On the day Enola turns 16, her mother disappears. Enola swiftly employs the help of her seemingly uninterested brothers to find her mother again. During this mission, she must face a number of challenges and decide whether to help a stranger in need.

There are definitely moments that demonstrate directorial tact and sensitivity. The romantic subplot does not take up too much time, and the focus remains on Enola and her accomplishments. This is particularly welcomed in a film about a teenage girl, making this a must-see for the younger generation. Slightly older viewers may find some extra joy in spotting a much-missed site nowadays, namely the Maughan Library. For anyone who misses campus, this alone might make it worth the watch.

The cinematography and editing are both very pleasing, and it is clear that the film boasts plenty of talent and budget. The costumes are also noteworthy and immediately set the scene for the Victorian era. What makes this film somewhat mediocre is the plot development. It is quite obvious what Enola’s mother is up to, and the viewer does not need any deciphering skills to figure it out. This makes the driving force of the film predicable and perhaps too easy to follow for anyone enjoying classic British crime. The ends tie up nicely, but they were not exactly shrouded in mystery to begin with.

Enola is a charming character, bound to strike a chord with anyone having even the smallest feminist bone in their body. In short, she is pretty damn cool, and will fight you. Brown plays her convincingly, and even manages a decent English accent. She repeatedly breaks the fourth wall, a difficult move to master. It is perhaps unfair to compare her to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s impeccable fourth wall-breaking, but Brown is a very good runner-up with the necessary confidence to make audience contact.

While Enola Holmes may lack some of the deeper layers that we find in truly great works, this is still a good and entertaining film, even for adults. Great heroines are always appreciated, and Brown’s performance is bound to touch the audience. Enola Holmes is a good choice for film evenings where you do not want to challenge yourself too much but still want to be adequately entertained. Or, if you just need a charming break from your fifth re-watch of Friends, Enola Holmes might be just the answer.

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