Millie Bobby Brown continues to show impressive range as a lead actress. She becomes a detective extraordinaire in Enola Holmes, a brilliant film adaptation of the popular young adult novels by Nancy Springer. The younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft, Enola embarks on a rousing adventure in Victorian England. She faces a daunting mystery while battling the oppressive patriarchy of the time. Enola Holmes is spirited and whimsical, but tough as nails when a Jiu Jitsu takedown is needed.
Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) awakens with excitement on her sixteenth birthday. She’s puzzled to find her beloved mother, Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), has seemingly vanished without a trace. But did leave behind a peculiar assortment of presents for her daughter. Enola’s fears deepen as days pass. Her older brothers, the curmudgeonly Mycroft (Sam Claflin), and renowned detective Sherlock (Henry Cavill), are summoned to the family estate. They haven’t seen Enola since she was a child.
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Mycroft is furious to find the gardens overrun and the mansion in a state of disarray. As the oldest male heir to their father’s fortune, he wonders what happened to all of the money he had sent his mother. He’s also unhappy with Enola’s indignant behavior. The girl never attended school or was instructed on how to be a proper lady. Meanwhile, Sherlock can find no evidence of foul play. Their mother left on purpose.
Enola is horrified when Mycroft decides to send her to finishing school. She begs Sherlock to intercede, but Enola is now officially Mycroft’s ward. Enola refuses to be sent away. She knows her mother’s love for ciphers and wordplay. There must be a clue to her whereabouts. Enola decides to escape and search for her mother. Eudoria taught her many things, but Enola had never left the English countryside. She soon discovers that the world can be a treacherous place with multiple obstacles. The investigation into her mother’s disappearance leads to another runaway (Louis Partridge) and a far-reaching conspiracy.
Enola Holmes takes a Phoebe Waller-Bridge approach to the narrative. Enola breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the camera. These asides are done in various artistic ways as the story progresses. Director Harry Bradbeer worked with Waller-Bridge extensively on her hit television shows Fleabag and Killing Eve. He cleverly adapts her witty style of audience communication to the emotional nuances of a juvenile character. Thus making Enola’s reactions feel more personal and endearing. It’s difficult to pull off, but magical when done correctly. Bradbeer has mastered this technique and uses it successfully here.
Enola Holmes has a primary theme of female empowerment. Enola is constantly underestimated because of her sex and youth. She disguises herself to move freely in different situations. But she also makes mistakes through arrogant assumptions. The character grows as she learns to deal with complicated feelings. This is particularly well done as she experiences a sweet, gentle romance. Millie Bobby Brown gives Enola Holmes tremendous depth. She’s fearless when needed, but can still blush when a boy holds her hand.
Enola Holmes does not give you all the answers. It’s a solid tentpole film that establishes the primary characters and sets the framework for further mysteries. Enola Holmes is generally lighthearted, but dark and surprisingly violent at times. The action does get bloody, so be aware for younger viewers. Enola Holmes is a production of Legendary Pictures. It will premiere September 23rd globally on Netflix.
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