You probably have met Sherlock Holmes in one form or another. Whether it was via the original work of Arthur Conan Doyle, the many television adaptations, or one of the multiple films, we all know Sherlock Holmes. Most of the time, we also see the loyal Dr. Watson, brother Mycroft Holmes, and arch-enemy Moriarty.
Well, forget (almost) all this as director Harry Bradbeer (“Fleabag”) is now bringing a brand new story involving Holmes to the screen. It’s based on Nancy Springer’s “The Enola Holmes Mysteries” and focusses on Enola Holmes, the less-famous of the Holmes’ children. While that shift in the lead character was incredibly welcome, “Enola Holmes” could have done with a bit more depth.
Right from the start, Millie Bobby Brown’s Enola Holmes takes you by the hand and guides you through the green fields and her exciting life. When you spell ‘Enola,’ you get ‘alone,’ but Enola is everything but that. She’s been surrounded by her stubborn brothers, the judgemental society, and the housemaid. Sadly, there’s one person she isn’t surrounded by anymore, and that’s her mother, Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter). Eudoria left very unexpectedly but luckily for Enola, her brothers are immensely known for their deduction skills.
However, when she’s being joined by both Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin) in the hope of finding her mother, the two brothers have other plans. Because of Enola’s ‘non-female behaviour’ Mycroft wants to send her to a boarding school, but Enola gets wind from this and decides to flee. Not only to escape her brothers but also to find her mother. During her turbulent train ride, she meets the young Viscount Tewksbury (Louis Partridge), who’s on the run from his family and political future. Despite being both on the run to London, they decide to depart once they arrive in the capital.
At first, everything seems to go fine. Enola finds out more about the disappearance of her mother, and Tewkesbury is still able to keep out of the hands of his family. However, it doesn’t take long before things get out of hand because despite having different reasons to escape from their families, Enola and Tewkesbury have one thing in common: There’s a (deadly) bounty on their head. One that even their most loyal friends can’t refuse…
If you would leave out the names, you probably won’t associate this story with the Holmes’ brothers (let alone the sister). While that’s not completely a bad thing, as this movie is based on Springer’s work, it feels like the film isn’t a finished piece. The movie could have been explored a little bit more.
One of those underexplored elements is the ‘science of deduction’. The Holmes brothers are known for their excellent deduction skills, and it becomes clear that also Enola has that particular set of skills. However, it’s just not fully explored in this movie. There are only a few scenes in which we see the masters of deduction doing what they’re good at.
The many (too many) storylines that are being combined make the narrative of this movie overcomplicated. This is mainly because it’s an adaptation of a novel. It would have been better if screenplay writer Jack Thorne focused more on some storylines than exploring them all in a volatile way. At first, it seems that Eudoria’s disappearance is the central mystery of Enola Holmes, but when Tewksbury makes his appearance, his runaway journey becomes the main mystery. That shift wouldn’t be a problem at all if it wasn’t for the long run-up to Eudoria’s disappearance. Some mysteries will be solved in this movie; a lot of them won’t. The fans are already demanding a sequel to this movie. If that happens, at least Netflix knows which storylines to close in that movie.
What makes this movie incredibly appealing and a joy to watch is Brown’s (“Stanger Things”, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”) intelligent, beautiful, and refreshing performances. Enola is the smart, dedicated, headstrong, and sharp young woman with some deductions skills of her own. Brown brings on that vividness and smartness beautifully and charmingly to screen. Right from the beginning, she’s breaking down the fourth wall, and while this could have been left out (because it doesn’t contribute a lot to the story), it’s a nice touch after all. While Sherlock is generally portrayed as the cold-hearted, full-of-himself and smart detective, Cavill (“Justice League”, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”) gives an entirely different look to him. He makes Holmes a much warmer, emotional, and relatable detective. We don’t see a lot of Claflin (“Adrift”, “The Nightingale”) as Mycroft, but what we see is very convincing and enjoyable.
Yes, “Enola Holmes” might not be the most exciting and captivating adaptation you will see, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad film at all. The charming performances and the uplifting topics will bring joy and happiness into your life, which is always great!
“Enola Holmes” is now available on Netflix.