Movie: Enola Holmes (2020)
Rating: 6.8 out of 10 stars
When I found out that there was a movie about the teenage sister of Sherlock and Mycroft, I was skeptical about it. How would it compare to other renderings of the Holmes family?
The answer: it doesn’t. While entertaining enough to be fun watching once, it failed to measure up. Read on to find out why.
Enola Holmes was released in 2020 as a Netflix original. It is based on The Enola Holmes Mysteries: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer.
The film stars Millie Bobbie Brown, Sam Claflin, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter, and Louis Partridge.
The plot revolves around 16-year-old Enola Holmes, whose mother goes missing. When she becomes the ward of her brother Mycroft and he tries to force her into an oppressive finishing school, she escapes and concocts a plan to find her lost mother.
She stumbles across the missing Viscount Tewkesbury and becomes immersed in two mysteries: Who is it that is trying to have Tewkesbury killed? And where is her mother?
The movie Enola Holmes is both a mystery movie and a story of self-discovery.
- Unique take on the Holmes family
- Creative pop-up book illustrations
- Costumes interesting, had a lot of thought behind them
- Enola had a fascinating childhood
- Enola is good at cracking codes, self-defense, hiding/disguises, memory
- Will likely be appealing to an audience of preteen and young teenage girls
- Constant breaking of the fourth wall
- Henry Cavill is a terrible Sherlock
- Mycroft is reduced to a disgruntled babysitter
- This is definitely not going to satisfy Sherlock Holmes fans
- Enola is not much of a mystery solver
It is safe to say that movies and shows about Sherlock Holmes are overdone. But ones that focus on his family? Not so much.
This is not Sherlock’s story; it is 100% Enola’s story. The name Holmes is important in the title because of the legacy it carries of mystery, ingenuity, and creativity – not because Sherlock is a significant character.
This is a new take on the Holmes’ family – one that has not been overdone, and one that could create a worthwhile series of its own.
The choice to include pop-up animations to introduce the family was creative. These were also used throughout the film, along with journalistic illustrations that made the movie feel like Enola’s personal diary.
The costumes were designed by Oscar-nominated Consolata Boyle. According to Boyle, Enola’s red dress was chosen to represent courage. She also utilized ivory, as it is a color associated with the suffragette movement. Each costume was carefully chosen. To learn more, check out this article
Enola Holmes is a likeable character with many skills. She is good at cracking codes, self-defense, and disguises. Her memory for details is impeccable. Her courage and generosity is also notable.
Enola is not much of a mystery solver, however. She did not solve either mystery mentally, but instead by courageous action and being where the action was happening.
Sherlock is an ineffective character primarily because it seems like the actor is trying to be two things at once: the friendly, compassionate big brother and the emotionally detached detective. For instance, Sherlock says:
You’re being emotional. That’s understandable, but unnecessary.”Sherlock from Enola Holmes
Yet he is so emotional that, according to Screenrant, Netflix was sued by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who claimed that this emotional Sherlock was based off Sherlock stories still under copyright.
Mycroft is reduced to a disgruntled babysitter who continuously fails in his attempts to control Enola. He has no redeeming qualities.
Breaking the Fourth Wall
I know this is a legitimate storytelling technique, but it was excessive in this movie. It strained one’s suspension of belief to the breaking point. Enola looks at the camera all the time, reminding viewers over and over that this is just a movie and that it’s all fake.
If you are looking for the escapist qualities of a good film, you won’t find them here. The constant reminder of the camera’s presence ruins any chance of the sort of realism that allows one to be absorbed in a story.
I gave this movie a 6.8 because it was better than the average movie. However, I would not be interested in watching it again.
While this movie is not for everyone, it is likely to appeal to an audience of preteen and young teenage girls.
Sherlock fans are likely to be disappointed. If you go into the movie without comparing it to other media that depict the Holmes family, you’ll be better off.
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