REEL Review – Enola Holmes (2020)

Director: Harry Bradbeer | 2h 3mins | Adventure, Drama, Mystery

Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) lives a closed off life in the country with her eccentric Mother (Helena Bonham Carter). When her Mother goes missing, Enola runs away in order to find her and also to avoid her brother, Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin).

Sherlock Holmes has been played over and over. In film and television, both in his arrogant youth and in his reflective older age. But this time Netflix have introduced a new spin-off in the Sherlock Holmes world, the introduction of Enola Holmes (it spells ‘alone’ backwards), a smart and resourceful young girl on the cusp of womanhood.

The film coasts through it’s run time relatively care-free, using the fourth wall to occasionally nod to the audience as Enola embroils herself in trouble and cheekily outsmarts her older brother in the process. But, where Enola Holmes finds it’s applaud is in it’s thematic importance. Teaching people of a younger age the importance of being themselves rather than being the person that everyone else expects. Set in the early 1900’s, it’s very easy to see how the theme’s play out in a very outdated social construct, especially for a young girl.

Enola’s strengths as a main character lie in her ability to match bravado with the very best the film has to offer.

Expected to become a young lady who can embroider and marry, Enola has no time for such nonsense in the wake of her Mother’s disappearance. On her tail though is her famed brothers Sherlock and Mycroft. Played delightfully by Henry Cavill, Sherlock has a calm and collected manor that never dominates the film but rather amplifies the connection Enola has to her ‘Holmes’ name. As for Mycroft, Sam Claflin’s over the top approach to the smarmy government official is wonderful to watch.

But, this is a film about Enola. Played by Millie Bobby Brown (known for Stranger Things [2016-]), Enola’s strengths as a main character lie in her ability to match bravado with the very best the film has to offer. She has the same youthful outlook on life we all miss having, and it helps her navigate a big scary world that she is unfamiliar with. As well as looking for her Mother though, she becomes involved with a young boy on the run from his family. This acts as the action-romance portion of the film, and while totally forgettable in parts it pads out the run time enough for it to do it’s job.

The problem lies in audience expectation, when you hear the name ‘Holmes’ what do we expect? Well, after BBC’s series showed us just how unique the detecting can be, it’s a real shame to see Enola Holmes struggle in it’s mystery and deciphering. There’s really no genius to her discoveries and the film is coasting so much on it’s formula and message decoding that it struggles to engage you in it’s investigation. You see essences of previous Sherlock outings, but Enola Holmes pales in comparison to the very best.

Anyone from the age of 10-60 years old can coast through Enola Holmes and find something they like. For me it was the small moments, the outsmarting of Sherlock, the scrap-book like expositing and even Sam Claflin’s campy performance. But the film struggles with it’s own ability to embrace the ‘Holmes’ name, leaving you with a film that’s thematically rich, but lacking the distinct genius of it’s predecessors.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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