“Perhaps it is a world that needs changing…”
From the moment the movie begins to the final scene, you can immediately see Enola Holmes is going to be one of those stories that ignites something in people. In the beginning, there is a question of “will it be just another Sherlock Holmes rendition?” or will this movie forge its own way into the viewing world. One can tell from just the opening scene that Enola might be a Holmes, but this character, and the young woman. Millie Bobby Brown who brings her to life, will also be a woman who will pave the way for young girls. In today’s chaotic, and sometimes unfair, world, we could all use a little more Enola Holmes.
The story begins with none other than the charismatic, just-turned-16 Enola Holmes as she is on her way to meet her brothers, the infamous detective Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft Holmes (Sam Claflin). She begins a brief outline of how she grew up, which leads up the first mystery of the movie: on the morning of her 16th birthday, her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) disappears without leaving a trace. Her brothers are then sent for and come home for the first time since leaving. After realizing the letters their mother sent to them on how she was raising Enola were a lie, Mycroft decides to enroll Enola in a finishing school so she may be properly taught how to be a lady and to marry a man “who would tame her,” and Sherlock means to solve the mystery of where their mother has run off to.
Enola does not agree with Mycroft’s ruling and thus her journey to solve her mother’s mysterious disappearance begins. Along the way, she meets Lord Viscount Tewksbury (Louis Patridge), who ends up playing a more important role in Enola’s life than originally thought. She learns more about her mother and why she taught her certain things, and discovers more about herself. The common theme of this movie throughout both mysteries, which intertwine with one another, is feminism and change.
Eudoria Holmes is a proactive feminist and leads a group of women who are working to change the vote and the world view on women in Britain, and in turn, raised, unknowingly, a feminist daughter. The entire basis of the plot is that Enola does not want to be turned into a woman who is just there for a pretty face. Even in the short moments we see Eudoria, Carter portrayed her as a woman ahead of her time, full of her wits and wisdom.
Despite some of the story holding characters we have seen and heard their tales before, the cast and crew helped bring both the familiar and new characters towards a new form. Brown, as Enola, was the perfect casting for the young wanna-be detective who is suddenly thrust into a world she was never prepared for. She managed to bring her own personality to the character and stepped it up to play with the “big dogs.” Enola also breaks the fourth wall throughout the entire movie as a way to bring the audience in and keep them on their toes, which is something very rarely done in movies because to be able to do so, one must need to make it flow, otherwise, it would ruin the atmosphere. However, Brown was able to do so with much charisma it never took from the movie, only added. As young as Brown is, she is able to carry the movie as if she has been doing it for years, with ease and poise.
The roles of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes have been done several times prior, but Cavill and Claflin were able to bring their own spin to it, even with only being secondary roles. From Superman to Sherlock, Cavill brought a gentleman scholar to the persona, bringing a subtle version of genius compared to his predecessors. Cavill portrays Sherlock as a man who, although his whole life is consumed by his work, does have some slight emotions and cares for his younger sister, whereas previous versions focus more on the eccentric side of him. Claflin as the elder Holmes worked as he brought a holier-than-thou essence to the government employed sibling. He portrayed Mycroft as someone who cared more about his presence in society and leaned into it.
Besides the Holmes family and the genius actors behind them, one must also note the performance of Louis Patridge as the flower loving, liberal Lord Viscount Tewksbury. Tewksbury ends up being Enola’s second mystery after saving him from an assassin on a train, but also her softer side. While Tewksbury does seem like the “damsel in distress” role, Partridge does a remarkable job never making it seem that way. His character adds depth to the story and to Enola as everything ties together in the end. Patridge’s Tewskbury compliments Brown’s Holmes as they work together.
In the end, Enola solves both her mother’s mystery as well as the Tewksbury mystery before Sherlock and begins to make her own way into the world. There is no happy, family moment in the end, despite it being hinted at between the final scene of Sherlock and Mycroft, but rather a satisfied one as Enola notes herself as “the future is up to us.”
Enola Holmes is now available for streaming globally on Netflix.