Dir; Harry Bradbeer. Starring; Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Louis Partridge. PG-13. Color. 123 min.
There have been so many depictions and interpretations based on the classic character Sherlock Holmes created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the early 1900’s. Easily the best is Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC show “Sherlock” as that guy was born for the role. No question the worst was Will Ferrell in the abysmal train wreck that was “Holmes & Watson”. Sherlock Holmes will constantly be made in all types of iterations. With “Enola Holmes”, the filmmakers took a refreshing new direction. They focused on Holmes’s little sister.
Millie Bobby Brown plays Enola, a spunky young girl living in a time when women were suppose to be the male viewed version of a lady. Enola’s father died when she was very young and her two older brothers left early on with the eldest Mycroft (Sam Claflin) becoming a rich businessman and Sherlock (Henry Cavill) becoming the countries greatest detective. So Enola grows up in a beautiful countryside estate with her awesomely eccentric mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter). From playing tennis in the living room to learning fighting skills in the garden, it is an atmosphere full of love and happiness.
Then the rug gets pulled out from under Enola. One night she sneaks up and sees a meeting of women in the study room with some type of plans being discussed. Mom slams the door and when Enola wakes up the next morning mom has disappeared. Searching the countryside to no avail, Enola must go to the train station because her two older brothers are arriving. At first they do not recognize her as it has been years since they have returned home. Sherlock is welcoming while Mycroft is angry a carriage is not already prepared for them.
Once returning to the home Sherlock begins to try to solve the case as to where their mother disappeared to. Mycroft instead goes towards citing the fact that this property is now his and Enola is now his property. Mycroft insists that she goes into a proper harsh women’s boarding school to learn how to be a “Proper Lady”. Asshole. To escape years of hell and also hoping to find her mother, Enola escapes disguised as a boy with Sherlock’s clothes and hops a train to London.
On the train ride, Enola is surprised in her booth when a stow away pops out of a piece of luggage. This would turn out to be Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), a rich kid on the run from his elitist family. Enola wants this guy to leave because she is on the run herself. The two become intertwined when an evil top-hatted man is on the train looking to kill Tewkesbury and Enola saves him before the two jump off of the train. Now stranded, they hitch a ride to London.
The duo part ways there with Enola on a mission to find her mother. Armed with plenty of money her mom left behind for her she decides to create a perfect disguise, the look of a proper lady. Enola hits the streets and begins to follow the clues. Certainly much more similar in personality to Sherlock than Mycroft. While hitting various road blocks, the young detective stumbles upon a warehouse filled with explosive materials and several posters promoting the women’s suffragette movement. She begins to put two and two together.
Out of nowhere Enola is attacked by the same top-hatted villain from the train and he nearly kills her. Now her search for mother has to take a step back as Tewkesbury’s life is clearly in danger. It takes a bit, but she finds Tewkesbury and the duo work together to solve both of their predicaments. And of course on the outskirts Sherlock is figuring the case out despite his schemey brother doing his best attempt at the dictatorship lifestyle.
I will leave the rest to you as any great mystery is not worth the hunt if you know everything in advance.
“Enola Holmes” is incredibly charming on multiple levels. There are the little quirks such as the use of old-timey black & white animation cuts or the way Enola breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly towards the camera. The film also goes hard in the paint when it comes to women’s rights, and it does it correctly. This message is done in multiple phases, but it is done with a vail of fun so that even bigots can walk away saying they had a good time.
While not a great classic film, I cannot think of a person I would be hesitant to recommend “Enola Holmes” to. It’s funny, exciting, well made, and has a great heart. Move over Sherlock, there’s a new Holmes in town.