Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Game Is Afoot…And There’s A New Player!
Enola Holmes was certainly hotly anticipated before its release on Netflix, and it seems that fuss is still far from dying down. The idea of another film adaptation was made exciting by the realisation that this one would feature a woman at the front and centre, one with real character development, backstory and drive. My only anxiety was waiting impatiently to see if this could be pulled off, but I needn’t have worried; it did not disappoint!
Directed by Harry Bradbeer and starring Millie Bobby Brown as Sherlock’s teenage sister Enola, this story has us follow her on a dangerous and exhilarating adventure to find their missing mother as well as her own sense of purpose. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Holmes film without a mystery and this one manifests itself in the form of the curious Viscount Tewksbury whose storyline soon becomes intertwined with Enola’s when she decides to help him, rivalling her brother’s intelligence for crime-solving in the process.
Based on The Enola Holmes Mysteries written by Nancy Springer, Enola is a complex yet engaging character whose witty one-liners and secretive asides charm the audience and make us feel only we are in on the joke. Equal measures of fiercely loyal and fiercely independent, it’s not difficult to see why this Holmes sister is a character type we need to see more often. Up until now, female appearances in modern Sherlock adaptations have mostly featured in the form of love interests, distractions, or for cooking and cleaning purposes (sorry Mrs Hudson). In this plot, the men take a back seat making way for a whole new circle of women who strive against the constraints of a society seeking to stifle them.
Though wonderfully funny, moments of this film had me close to tears. Enola sacrifices her freedom to save someone she cares about and risks her life to find her mother despite enraging the wroth of Mycroft, Tewksbury’s family and the police. Her determination in the face of a male-dominated world that works against her is empowering. Her actions speak volumes towards the lack of gender equality in a patriarchal system. This is deconstructed powerfully by Susie Wokoma’s character, female martial arts academy owner Edith, with one of my favourite lines of the film directed to Sherlock for his ignorance in not wanting to change the world: ‘Because you have no interest in changing a world that suits you so well’. Never has a film spoken truer words and ones which apply so precisely to the present despite being spoken in a period setting.
Featuring a myriad of British talent, Bobby Brown’s charismatic performance is matched by that of Henry Cavill who brings us our much-loved detective Holmes, but with perhaps more warmth and humility than we’ve seen before, while his ever-bitter brother Mycroft is brought to life by Sam Claflin, with just the right amount of evil. Helena Bonham Carter is as wonderful as ever playing the mysterious Eudoria who disappears leaving a breadcrumb trail of confusing clues. And let’s not forget Fiona Shaw whose uptight headmistress had me laughing not so much ‘like a lady’ but rather guffawing into my elbow.
The only setback of this film was a frustrating cliché near the climax where a lead character supposedly dies before being discovered very much alive only a few minutes later and a rushed reunion ending which left me with more questions than answers. But what’s this compared with feminist brilliance and a fast-paced, action-filled plot-line full of mystery?
Move over Sherlock…there’s a new Holmes sibling in the game!
– Leila Lockley
Featured Image Source: Still via Netflix // YouTube. Director: Harry Bradbeer