Whether it’s purely coincidental, or because of established relationships, actors who have appeared in one Netflix original production often appear in others. That certainly is the case with Enola Holmes, a spirited period adventure that brings together the likes of Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown, The Witcher’s Henry Cavill, and The Queen’s Helena Bonham Carter.

Based on the first book in a young adult series by Nancy Springer, Enola Holmes invents a third Holmes sibling – to join Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic Sherlock (Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin) – the laatlammetjie Enola (Bobby Brown).

With a 20-year age gap between herself and her brothers, Enola has received an unconventional upbringing by her mother Eudoria (Bonham Carter) on the remote family estate. She reads everything in the manor library, learns scientific theory, plays chess and even practices jiu jitsu. On the morning of her 16th birthday, Enola wakes to find her mother gone, leaving only a cryptic cipher puzzle. Our heroine sets out into the world for the first time to solve the mystery around the disappearance, but finds herself entwined in the search for a missing teenage lord (Louis Partridge), and has to contend with her brothers’ attempts to lock her away in a finishing school until she has been moulded into a respectable Victorian lady.

That really is the problem with Enola Holmes. There is A LOT going on, and even though the film moves along as swiftly as the boisterous, fourth wall-breaking Enola, the result is a movie that still feels too long at over 2 hours. Enola Holmes would have benefited from losing, or demoting, at least one of its equally weighted plot branches, and shaving off twenty minutes.

This isn’t to say there aren’t pleasures to be had. Primarily, there’s the top-notch British cast across the board. Enola is a fantastic role for Millie Bobby Brown, proving she is capable of playing more than intense outsiders like Eleven. Her charismatic and involving performance as the resourceful Enola once again makes a strong case for her fan casting as a young Leia Organa.

Meanwhile, Claflin is spot-on as the uptight, politically ambitious Mycroft, while Cavill presents a fresh take on Sherlock Holmes, portraying the sleuth as more socially integrated than typically depicted. Personally I would have preferred Cavill’s Sherlock to show a few more quirks: a big deal is made in the film about his emotional detachment and disinterest, although there is little evidence of it. However, there is something about treating Sherlock Holmes as a celebrated Marty Stu who still remains several steps behind his brilliant baby sister.

That brings us to the question of feminism in Enola Holmes. Some people got very upset by this publicity stunt for the film, which they saw as trampling on men’s legacies to uplift women. Feminist themes are obviously present in Enola Holmes, but they’re not delivered in a heavy-handed manner. In fact there’s a kind of subversive feminism present where Enola consciously uses repressive Victorian women’s dress and behaviour expectations to achieve her goals. Just as often, though, Enola defies social norms, and she finds her male equivalent in Partridge’s Viscount Twekesbury, a young man whose greatest passion is botany.

It’s worth mentioning that even the most literally militant feminists in Enola Holmes are far from furious misandrists. One of the most memorable moments in the film is a quiet exchange between Sherlock and a woman character who points out that the detective’s greatest privilege is that he can be indifferent to political change.

Again, though, Enola Holmes isn’t trying to hammer home a message. In fact, at times it feels like it’s trying a little too hard to be quirky and breezy instead, sidestepping certain historical realities, like how easily a genteel young woman could move around 19th Century London without a chaperone. The film does still work, though, as an inspiring and engaging tale for young girls watching.

And now that the plot foundation has been laid, Enola’s future on-screen adventures should be able to proceed in a manner that is both more focused and fun.

Last Updated: September 28, 2020

Enola Holmes
It’s too long and too split in its focus, but Enola Holmes is a great showcase for the talents and charm of Millie Bobby Brown, who is in turn supported by a British cast stuffed with recognisable faces. As a first step, it’s wobbly, but the film presents a genuinely fresh take on Sherlock Holmes lore, and future mystery-solving adventures in its universe are welcome.
7.0
/10

24 Comments

  1. For the Emperor!

    September 28, 2020 at 14:05

    I’m about halfway through. Not what I was expecting as I didn’t follow any buildup to this. As such I was not in the right mood to complete it. Will probably finish it tonight though. Must say, thus far I do enjoy the performance of Enola. The highlight so far in the first half for sure.

    But if I am remembering correctly, Mycroft wanted to ship Alone away, Sherlock just said it was not his place as Mycroft was her ward and not him. Perhaps he wants to ship her off later in the movie? Or my grammar is finally failing me ?

    Reply

  2. For the Emperor!

    September 28, 2020 at 14:05

    I’m about halfway through. Not what I was expecting as I didn’t follow any buildup to this. As such I was not in the right mood to complete it. Will probably finish it tonight though. Must say, thus far I do enjoy the performance of Enola. The highlight so far in the first half for sure.

    But if I am remembering correctly, Mycroft wanted to ship Alone away, Sherlock just said it was not his place as Mycroft was her ward and not him. Perhaps he wants to ship her off later in the movie? Or my grammar is finally failing me ?

    Reply

  3. HvR

    September 28, 2020 at 15:03

    Would up it to 8/10; enjoyed it but story feels a bit rushed and the movie a bit too long at the same time. Feels it would have been better as say 6 to 8 episode series.

    Reply

  4. For the Emperor!

    September 28, 2020 at 14:05

    I’m about halfway through. Not what I was expecting as I didn’t follow any buildup to this. As such I was not in the right mood to complete it. Will probably finish it tonight though. Must say, thus far I do enjoy the performance of Enola. The highlight so far in the first half for sure.

    But if I am remembering correctly, Mycroft wanted to ship Alone away, Sherlock just said it was not his place as Mycroft was her ward and not him. Perhaps he wants to ship her off later in the movie? Or my grammar is finally failing me ?

    Reply

    • Banana Jim

      September 28, 2020 at 17:04

      The first quarter is pretty decent, but it definitely ends up dragging towards snorefest. The director could have thrown half of it on the chopping board, and streamlined it towards being a much tighter and focused film.

      This bloated mess could have been cut up to be two seperate movies.

      Introduce Enola, put her on mission to find her mother, Sherlock enters the fray (as a reluctant ally and maybe a Yoda figure), there's a nefarious plot (involving the parental)... a villain emerges... mother dies (end flick)

      Next movie: it focuses on Count whatsisface, the new villain and the suffragettes.

      Reply

      • For the Emperor!

        September 29, 2020 at 06:39

        I finished it. Found it OK. Not high enough to rush to see any sequel, but also not low enough to disregard any sequel due to MBB as Enola.

        Some people playing up Alone is a smarter detective, getting there before Sherlock. But they forget one “clue”: she had 3 times the information he had! He got the murder plot from a telegram about his assistant, a freeking newspaper headline and picture without having to be involved in the case! *the parts shown in the movie at least*

        Reply

        • Banana Jim

          September 29, 2020 at 10:59

          Lol yes!!!! What did you think of this version’s Lestrade?

          Reply

          • For the Emperor!

            September 29, 2020 at 11:41

            One part irritated me a bit, but overall he was ok. I don’t know enough about the character really to give a super detailed analysis.

    • Banana Jim

      September 28, 2020 at 17:39

      Mycroft’s motivation isn’t terrible either. As much as the movie tries to paint him as unreasonable or as a villain, he’s a concerned older brother who is well-versed in the terrible realities of Victorian England.

      It’s clear that Enola’s mother hasn’t prepared her for those realities. But, then this is a movie that’s taking modern sensibilities and then cramming it into a time period that couldn’t or wouldn’t accommodate it. The same is true for the headmistress at the finishing school, she becomes a victim of being viewed through a critical modern/progressive eye, rather than actually being an individual that will put Enola on a path where she COULD become an educated young lady, a real detective and a benefit to the suffragette movement.

      Reply

  5. Insomnia is fun

    September 28, 2020 at 14:45

    • MaSeKind

      September 28, 2020 at 14:45

      Haha funny that the Arthur Conan Doyle estate have issues with Enola Holmes, but they’re fine with this movie

      Reply

      • Banana Jim

        September 28, 2020 at 17:03

        lol, have you watched Holmes and Watson…?

        I fear it’s used in Gitmo to torture political prisoners.

        Reply

      • Insomnia is fun

        September 30, 2020 at 22:43

        Hypocrites!

        Reply

    • Banana Jim

      September 28, 2020 at 16:56

      • Insomnia is fun

        September 30, 2020 at 22:43

        ??????

        Reply

  6. MaSeKind

    September 28, 2020 at 14:45

    I enjoyed the movie. Getting Hermione vibes from MBB (is that what we’re calling her?), probably cause that’s the only other young English actress role I’m really familiar with. But good to see MBB having a fun role to play. Stranger Things was fine but the role was a bit wooden, as it should probably be. Godzilla was meh. Hopefully she’s got a bright future ahead.

    The fourth wall breaking stuff was weird but I think she pulled it off.

    Not the biggest fan of people who write books off of other people’s famous IP, but Sherlock from before 1924 is public domain so I guess you’re allowed to. Just feels wrong.

    Also I’ve got a mancrush on Cavill. And Burn Gorman is always excellent

    Reply

    • Banana Jim

      September 28, 2020 at 16:56

      Yeah, I’m also not a fan of it (even if it went through the estate and was given the ol’ rubber stamp). But then I detest fan fiction to begin with.

      It’s just feels like a such a slimy way to get attention for your books. Oh, look I’m writing a novel that’s loosely based within in the world created by another author, and I’m going to use their characters to promote my own work. Please shower me with money.

      At least, JK Rowling created her own world, with her own characters. Or take Alexander Smith’s detective series about Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s ace detective. Where’s the Netflix series about Precious? HBO gave it a shot a couple years ago, maybe it’s time for a new Precious series….

      Reply

  7. Yozzie

    September 28, 2020 at 14:54

    Watched it last night. Was pretty refreshing to make it through a whole 2 hour movie again without falling asleep.

    Reply

  8. HvR

    September 28, 2020 at 15:03

    Would up it to 8/10; enjoyed it but story feels a bit rushed and the movie a bit too long at the same time. Feels it would have been better as say 6 to 8 episode series.

    Reply

    • Banana Jim

      September 28, 2020 at 17:39

      Yeah, I think it would have been better as a miniseries. They tried to cram too much in the film. I was actually relieved when it ended, just so that I could add my dislike, and hopefully never see it recommended to me again.

      Reply

  9. Banana Jim

    September 28, 2020 at 16:56

    Can’t say I enjoyed it at all. 3/10

    Arguably one of the most insipid and overly bloated movies I’ve had the displeasure of watching in a long time. I liked MBB as Enola, but why did they have to cram so much into it? And 2 hours of it? Good god…

    But, who else wants to see a movie about Edith instead? A black woman in Victorian London, who’s owns her own tea shop AND she’s teaching jujitsu to suffragettes? I mean comeon… that is a Guy Ritchie movie for the ages.

    But yeah, Enola Holmes… ugh, more like Moderob Holmes.

    Reply

    • The G

      September 29, 2020 at 17:37

      I also wanted to see more of Edith. Talk about an interesting character.

      Reply

  10. Nerdelbaum Frink

    September 29, 2020 at 15:44

    Completely disagree about it feeling long. Movie seemed the perfect length and pacing for what it was.

    Reply

    • The G

      September 29, 2020 at 17:37

      The movie has a number of great qualities.

      Millie has grown into a good actor and she has a bright future ahead of her. I liked Henry Cavil’s version of Sherlock because it was different. I wish he had more scenes and that there were more interaction between him and Millie… but the pacing and the length of the movie were problematic. A movie with a great story can be ruined by terrible pacing, and an average one can be saved by excellent pacing.

      https://media2.giphy.com/media/sUl6rKwdqjd1C/giphy.gif

      Reply

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