‘Enola Holmes‘ is a Netflix adaption of the young adult mystery novels by Nancy Springer. None of which I have read. The film is directed by Harry Bradbeer and written by Jack Thorne.
Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) lives happily with her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) where she learns all kinds of skills, both practical and impractical. After her mother vanishes, her older brothers Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill) arrive. Upon learning of Mycroft’s intent to send her to finishing school, she leaves them behind and goes on a quest to find her mother. Later, she helps the teenaged Lord Tewksbury (Louis Partridge) escape from an assassin (Burn Gorman). After arriving in London, she begins searching for Eudoria and soon learns that her mother was involved in some improbable events.
First of all, Millie Bobby Brown does a good job as Enola. Her breaking the third wall was actually quite charming and she does bring a charisma to the screen. Likewise, Henry Cavill is excellent as Sherlock Holmes. Instead of the coldhearted version we often get, we get the more calculated eccentric that we use to see in the eighties and nineties. Cavill does play it well. Holmes’ friend and colleague Dr. John Watson was absent from the story and that absence was felt.
As for the plot, it was interesting enough to entertain a teenaged audience, however, it has a lot of cringe involved. During the course of the film, we are treated to every politically correct trope you could possibly imagine. From the actresses whining about corsets to Sherlock Holmes receiving a lecture on why he should care about politics, it is hit from beginning to end. You roll your eyes so many times at the intersectional nonsense that it gives you a headache. It is thrown in your face constantly.
Another weakness of the movie is Enola is a bit of a Mary Sue. She gets everything she wants when she wants it. Even when she loses, she wins. Unlike the stories of Sherlock Holmes, who works around problems with deduction, Enola often simply wills it to happen and though she is given opportunities to be clever, her ability to be the “bestest evar” overshadows this. For instance, she trades punches and jujitsu throws with a trained hitman who is also twice her size. The fight scene is meant to be serious, but you find yourself laughing at how silly it looks as she runs rings around the villain in this ridiculous high heels. It is true that she outwits him, but the sparring match beforehand made it seem unnecessary.
Perhaps the most egregious change to characters is with Mycroft. In the short stories, he is a government agent who is incredibly lazy but perhaps smarter than Sherlock. Most portrayals match this, though vary in his coldness. However, in this movie he is a fickle, heartless, and, oh, did I mention a sexist elite? I somehow doubt that the filmmakers ever read a Sherlock Holmes story that featured him. It was appalling and I could actually hear Sir Arthur Conan Doyle roll over in his grave.
Bottom line, Enola Holmes has some good performances and an interesting plot, but it is overshadowed by the Mary Sue nature of its protagonist and the complete lack of respect for its source material. Hopefully, we will get a spin-off that features Henry Cavill as the great detective.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Some violence, Thematic elements
FAVORITE QUOTE: You’re being emotional. It is understandable but unnecessary.
Check out the trailer below:
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