Netflix’s latest original, ENOLA HOLMES, has introduced yet another Sherlock Holmes reincarnation into the world of cinema, but with a gratifying twist- the film isn’t really about him, but his highly intelligent and head strong sister, Enola. Directed by Harry Bradbeer, known for directing the majority of the hit British television series, FLEABAG (2016-2019), and based on the first book of the young adult book series by Nancy Springer, the film is surprisingly delightful for the majority of it’s run time.
Millie Bobby Brown stars as Enola, a dynamic and outgoing detective in training; a refreshing glance into the incredible young actor’s range after performing the dramatic and brooding Eleven in Netflix’s original series by The Duffer Bros., STRANGER THINGS (2016- present). When their mother (Helena Bonham Carter) goes missing, brothers Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft Holmes (Sam Claflin) are forced to reunite with their sister in order to locate her and to determine the future of Enola’s education. When it is revealed that Enola will be excluded from the search and subsequently sent to a women’s finishing school, she flees to find her mother alone.
After so many recent interpretations of Sherlock Holmes, Cavill is under scrutiny to bring new and unique facets to the character. He does exactly this by bringing levels of nurturing and emotionality to Holmes, traits not often associated with the character. While they do not govern his portrayal, they are a necessary addition and serve the film’s purpose, style, and tone. It also makes for incredible on-screen sibling chemistry between Brown and Cavill, to the point where viewers excitedly await their reunion throughout. Sam Claflin is unrecognizable as Mycroft Holmes, known for his roles as Oswald Mosley in PEAKY BLINDERS (2013- present) and Finnick Odair in THE HUNGER GAMES series (2013, 2014, 2015), and is a satisfying and conventional counterpart to his quirky oddball family. Brown, Cavill, and Claflin truly shine and fit together as siblings, and while viewers never see them all together with Bonham Carter, their family is completely believable and relatable. They just make sense as a family, which is probably where a lot of the film’s charm comes from.
The film looks akin to a peppy SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (2004, 2017- 2019) in either of its adaptations, boasting collage transitions and a steam-punk-esque style, stemming from the industrial revolution era. These accents subliminally signal to the viewer its status as an adaptation, but also serve as lenses as to how Enola views the world. Enola’s adventure takes on several twists and requires a suspension of disbelief of its viewer, but still manages to convey some dark historical accuracy. Plainly and simply, ENOLA HOLMES is a charming and delightful watch. It has just enough dark undertones to keep it engaging, but is suitable for any young adult or for an easy, lighthearted view.