TL;DR – A funny, engaging, and enjoyable film that casts a new spin on an old tale
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Nominated: Most Fun.
Enola Holmes Review –
As the march of the copyright extension powers forward more and more, few stories are both in the public domain and have enough thematic strength to be engaging after all this time. However, I should note that not even Sherlock Holmes is not entirely removed from this mess. One of the few stories that match both of these criteria is the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. We have reached the point that not only have we had the many different interpretations of the original stories but also original works within the universe. Today we look at an adaption of the later as we delve into a mystery at the heart of a family … well families.
We open with Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) running through the English countryside giving us a back story of her life with her mother Eudoria Holmes (Helena Bonham Carter). A life that was full of mystery and joy. However, on the day of Enola’s 16th birthday, she woke up to find her mother missing. The only thing that was left was a single gift for Enola, a box of notes about flowers … or a box full of clues. Hoping to get some assistance she enlists the help of her two brothers Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin) … and that goes about as well as you can expect.
Right from the start, we get an interesting dynamic between the three Holmes siblings. Enola is our point of view character to the point that she would often break the fourth wall to share information with us. She is given several paths in the story and picks the better one because of the strength of her character, and it is that strength that serves the film well. Sherlock is of course emotionally distant, well as remote as one can be when they are played by Henry Cavill that oozes charm out of every pore. Mycroft, on the other hand, is the more stuck in the mud type fixed in his ways. Each creates stumbling blocks for each other which makes for engaging viewing.
Narratively we have several different editing techniques to keep the engagement up and the story flowing. The first is the before mentioned fourth wall breaks that stretch from full-on exposition moments to eye rolls to the camera that would not be out of place in Parks and Rec. This can all feel forced at times in other films, but it works here because Millie Bobby Brown is such a good actor. She can shift from a kind of distant detachment to showing genuine care, which fits into that Sherlock model while also being her own character. We also get the use of title cards, the speeding up and reversing of time, moving of tiles around, and more. All of this helps deepen the mystery and encourage the desire to see it solved, which is essential when the question of if she should even solve the mystery is raised.
On the narrative front, we have two different yet likely related stories twisting throughout the film. The first is the mystery of what happened to Eudoria Holmes, which leads us into some dark places as we delve into the world of politics and revolution. The other is that of a missing Viscount Lord Tewksbury The Marquess of Basilwether (Louis Partridge) who is being chased by a man in a bowler hat called Linthorn (Burn Gorman). As the stories intertwine, we get glimpses of the world of the Holmes but also of the time. A time of politics of power and possibly change.
One of the strengths of the film is its supporting cast that brings some real depth to the film. If you have watched the fourth season of The Expanse, you will already know Burn Godman plays a good villain, and here he is ruthless. Frances de la Tour is The Dowager the matriarch of a grand family who is both grandmotherly and also a scion of a broken system. Edith (Susan Wokoma) is a jujitsu teaching ball of power that captures every scene she is in. Viscount Lord Tewksbury, the Marquess of Basilwether, is charming in his own naïve way. Even Helena Bonham Carter as Eudoria Holmes works as this almost unseen conscious for Enola guiding her in the moments she needs it.
The film is funny and charming, but it is not without some issues. The transition between second and third acts grinds the movie to a halt, and it struggles to get going again. There is a running plotline about a wrestling movie that never really lands, and it wants to dabble with the politics rather than committing to it. Now while these are issues, thankfully the overall strength of the story and the powerful performances mean that they never become hindrances to the film.
In the end, do we recommend Enola Holmes? Absolutely. This is a fun film from start to finish, and I am glad we get to see Millie Bobby Brown work in a new space and thriving. It was a modern take on a classic character, and it worked. If you liked Enola Holmes, I would also recommend to you Paddington 2.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Enola Holmes
Directed by – Harry Bradbeer
Screenplay by – Jack Thorne
Based on – The Enola Holmes Mysteries Book ‘The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery’ by Nancy Springer and Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Music by – Daniel Pemberton
Cinematography by – Giles Nuttgens
Edited by – Adam Bosman
Production/Distribution Companies – Legendary & Netflix
Starring – Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter, Louis Partridge, Adeel Akhtar, Fiona Shaw, Frances de la Tour, Susie Wokoma, Burn Gorman, Claire Rushbrook, David Bamber & Hattie Morahan
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: na; Germany: na; New Zealand: na; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13