Director: Harry Bradbeer
Writer: Jack Thorne
Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin
When Enola Holmes (Bobby Brown), the teenage sister of Sherlock, discovers that her mother (Helena Bonham-Carter) is missing, she must become a super sleuth in her own right as she tries to find her mother, gets involved in a dangerous conspiracy involving a mysterious young lord and tries to evade and outwit her famous brothers.
It does feel that more than ever we are being provided with endless versions and interpretations of Baker Street’s famous detective, and while some are better than others in terms of what they do with the characters, it is certainly refreshing to have a story that focusses on another Holmes sibling (based on the recent books).
Is it an intriguing and refreshing flip on a portrayal of a famous character? Nope.
Is it enjoyable, but vacuous entertainment in its own right? Yes.
Will it live long in the memory? Nope.
Enola Holmes (like so many Netflix films) wants to be the start of a franchise, and though it has not exactly got off to a great start, it does have further books to use and I would certainly like it to become a franchise if this stops any of the films starring Mark Wahlberg becoming franchises. Enola Holmes is certainly a very hyperactive film, whether that be Jack Thorne’s energetic directing, Giles Nuttgens’ colourful cinematography or Millie Bobby Brown’s enthusiastic and engaging turn as the titular protagonist. It is her performance that certainly elevates the film and makes it more engaging than the flat script deserves to be.
One of the main aspects of how Enola Holmes is told is of course the constant breaking of the fourth wall, and this is an even more dangerous and risky technique than voiceovers, and it can certainly become a tiresome gimmick very quickly. While it is initially quite fun and (kind of) refreshing, the sight of our protagonist constantly pulling strange expressions directly at the camera does get tiresome and boring very quickly, demonstrating perfectly a film that is actually quite devoid of ideas or genuine creativity.
Enola herself is supposed to be some kind of budding sleuth, but though she initially does well to evade her brothers, the overall narrative actually involves very little crime solving, with most plot developments being predictable and our protagonist stumbling into situations rather than having to actually solve any true mysteries or challenges. Meanwhile, as the famous Sherlock brothers, it is fair to say that Henry Cavill and Sam Claflin have had and will have more challenging roles to play in their respective careers. The depiction of Holmes has of course annoyed many (including the estate of Conan Doyle) and though any film is free to depict the characters in anyway it wants (they are fictional after all), the depiction of Mycroft to fit into the overall protagonist journey is very lazy and his character is very two dimensional.
The film does indeed have a setting in time of which a vote took place to allow the more common man to vote in elections, and this does tie in quite well with the overall plot that adds a little bit of substance. There are also inevitably some feminist undertones to the script that are not only quite lazy and obvious, but are also then contradicted by a later narrative development brought about by the protagonist in what us a very minimal and predictable plot – despite the fact that the film is over 2 hours! However, Enola Holmes is a film best taken with a pinch of salt, as it has no substance, but works perfectly well as a light-hearted, enjoyable and vacuous adventure romp for those wanting something very easy to watch.
Though the novelty of the constant fourth wall breaking wears thin very quickly, thanks to an engaging and energetic performance from Millie Bobby Brown Enola Holmes is a very enjoyable, but forgettable film.
At time of writing Enola Holmes is available to stream on Netflix