When I first saw the name of this film, I didn’t think right away that it’s somehow connected to Sherlock Holmes. Well, the trailer sure revealed she is indeed the teen sister of that famous literary sleuth. Apparently it’s also based on a book series by Nancy Springer called The Enola Holmes Mysteries.
Well, let’s just say the cast for the role of Enola is spot on! Millie Bobby Brown, who at 16 is exactly the age of the character she’s playing (at least by the time of its release) is the kind of smart, spunky heroine that can carry a movie on her own able shoulders. Even with co-stars such as Helena Bonham Carter as her mom, Henry Cavill as Sherlock and Sam Claflin as Mycroft, Millie is the one who commands attention and I was immediately invested in her journey.
The movie shows young Enola (Sofia Stavrinou) who grows up with her mother Eudoria in an English cottage as her two older brothers are off studying abroad. Naturally the two are close and Eudoria practically teaches her gifted daughter everything she knows, from literature, art, physics, to martial arts. With a mother who’s also her best friend, things are rosy for Enola… until one day, her mother goes missing.
Now, as someone who actually lost a mother at the exact age of 16 (actually my mother passed on my sixteenth birthday), the film resonates with me in a strong way. In fact, I remember tearing up a bit as Enola is in distress when she can’t find her mother. Naturally, Enola isn’t going to be in mourning for long, her mother didn’t raise her to simply wallop in self pity.
Soon she summons her older brothers, and the meet-up by the train station is quite amusing as neither of the brothers recognize her. Granted she was just a baby when they went away. I love that the movie emphasizes the sleuthing aspect in a fun way, and I cheer every time Enola figures out a clue left by her mother. The playful way of Harry Bradbeer‘s direction, where Enola often breaks the fourth wall and address the viewers, made for a fun, entertaining family movie. Though there are certain intense fighting moments, this is a safe movie to watch with the whole family, especially young girls, given the uplifting message of female empowerment.
I don’t want to give too much away with the plot, but given election time is near in the US, the film’s message is perfectly-timed. Yet it doesn’t feel preachy, but comes organically as Enola discovers more revelations about her mother’s disappearance. Along her journey, she encounters a mysterious young Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) who somewhat distracts her from her mission to find her mom. But the one person I find the most memorable, and also essential in Enola’s personal growth, is when she meets Edith (Susan Wokoma) at a martial art class.
If you want to stay in London, be tough… be tough! Live the life. But don’t do it because you’re looking for someone. Do it because you’re looking for yourself. – Edith
Wokoma sure has some of the feminist-friendly quotes in the film. Upon meeting Sherlock himself, she astutely points out this observation…“Politics doesn’t interest you because you have no interest in changing a world that suits you so well.” Touchè!
I wish there were more interactions between Millie and Bonham-Carter, but certainly, the few times they do meet feels quite special. Much has been made about Cavill’s softer, more emotional portrayal of Sherlock (Netflix was sued by the Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate for this exact reason). I actually laughed when I read that. Yes, Cavill’s Sherlock portrayal is certainly ‘nicer’ here, but compared to Claflin’s callous and overbearing Mycroft, naturally he seems far more sympathetic. I was actually more distracted by Cavill’s ginormous torso that threatens to bust out of that form-fitting Tweed suit. Sorry but I prefer skinnier/leaner Cavill before he bulked up as Superman. His acting skills is pretty average that his Sherlock isn’t really anything special (nowhere near as fun as Benedict Cumberbatch’s version). It’s no hyperbole to say that Enola doesn’t just outwits her highly-educated older brothers, but Millie also runs circles around those two actors effortlessly. But Claflin at least manages to act and portray a character quite different from his usual roles. Oh and despite playing Cavill’s older brother, Claflin is actually 3 years younger than him.
There is as much battle of wits and actual physical battle here, especially for Millie. There are at least two really intense fights between her and Burn Gorman who plays a hired assassin. Given Millie is also a producer in this movie, she must have wanted to do more action-y roles. It’s quite a feat to watch her fight not only a much older man + a skilled fighter, but she does it in a Victorian dress! I recognize that one of the locations used in the final action scene, also involving Frances de la Tour as the Dowager, which is the Hatfield House. I immediately remember the Armoury’s black and white checkered floor as it’s also used in various movies, most recently Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
I thoroughly enjoy this movie and as I mentioned before, Millie’s portrayal is definitely a huge factor. I love that she fully embraces her fearless spirit, but her rebellious nature isn’t simply to get attention, but it’s part of who she is. Yet she’s also not heartless, and I appreciate certain moments where she gets emotional. Now, I am glad the movie resists a full-on romance between her and Tewkesbury, while there’s obviously a hint of a crush between the two attractive teens. It’s definitely a beautiful movie for the senses, thanks to cinematography by Giles Nuttgens and music by Daniel Pemberton. The witty script by Jack Thorne and Bradbeer’s energetic direction sure makes for a delightful adaptation. I don’t even mind seeing more of Enola Holmes’ adventures!
Have you seen ENOLA HOLMES? Well, what did you think?