It was only until 2006 that the idea of a third Holmes child was introduced to the world. Nancy Springer’s invention fitted in perfectly with the eccentricity of Sherlock and Mycroft and involved a whole new audience in the world Arthur Conan Doyle had started. This film which also follows the books continues the characters reputation of an endearing heroine with a rebellious, sharp mind.
Before we move onto the character herself, I feel as though I have to mention that much like the novels, this film has a very specific target audience. Although I was entertained and willing to follow Enola’s adventure, I don’t feel that I connected to the character in the same way that a young girl would. The film is very focused on being a film that reaches out to the female audience through some subtle and obvious feminist themes. As well as the mystery of Enola’s disappearing mother Eudoria Holmes (Helena Bonham Carter), there is also a mystery surrounding a vote on a law quite simply known as the Reform Bill. Although it is never mentioned exactly what this bill is, you don’t have to be a detective to figure out it is somewhat related to Women’s suffrage. But it doesn’t alienate other audiences entirely, in fact, for most of Enola Holmes, it has the makings of a nice film for the family.
Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things fame brings Sherlock’s sister to life with a rebellious attitude to investigating. You can tell straight away by how energetic Millie Bobby Brown’s performance is that she is having the time of her life, and with Enola’s traits of mature girl-power, she is well on her way to becoming an inspiration to many children. The Sherlock and Mycroft’s sibling rivalry continues with Henry Cavill (Sherlock) and San Clafin (Mycroft) taking on the roles. Fun fact, the Arthur Conan Doyle estate tried to sue the film because of Cavill’s portrayal of Sherlock having too much emotion, but I can’t see the complaints here as Cavill proves his worth as our Reichenbach hero. After Eudoria disappears leaving Enola on her own, the two are add odds deciding what to do with her, while Sherlock admires her smart wit, Mycroft wants to turn her into a lady by sending her to finishing school. You could say their characters reflect the views of the late 1800’s on female liberation with Mycroft reflecting the adversary views and Sherlock the acceptance views.
Something which Millie Bobby Brown was instant on is how much Enola breaks the fourth wall to address the audience. This is a familiar technique seen by director Harry Bradbeer, who has also directed episodes of the acclaimed show Fleabag, and it does do the trick of getting your attention early. My only gripe about is in a scene in which Enola has to escape from finishing school, she looks down the camera and asks the audience “have you got any ideas”. From here she became less Enola Holmes and more Dora the Explorer for my liking. Nevertheless, the other usages of fourth wall breaks are effective.
Enola Holmes is set up to be a comfortable watch for everyone in it’s establishing moment, however the film can turn somewhat dark in a couple of scenes. This is a bit of a dilemma for me, while I almost understand the necessity to turn to more mature moments, it clashes with a tone that was already working well. It is in these scenes where the film can turn into a film where it entertains everyone, to something that is pretty violent set by its own standards. If it were up to me, I would have stayed on course with the more fun, lively tone as we have plenty of darker Holmes stories courtesy of the recent TV series. The filmmakers should have taken notes on the TV series to see how these conflicted tones can become balanced properly.
In this sea of well performed and likable characters, there is one character who I believe is way over-cliched, this being the headmistress of the finishing school Enola is sent to, Mrs. Harrison (Fiona Shaw). This character has the sternness of a Roald Dahl villain and I know she’s meant to be a despised character, but it is so overplayed it becomes unbearable.
Enola Holmes as a film about women breaking the status quo is difficult to ignore because of how effective it is used. I would love to see more young girls wanting to be like Enola as a result of this film because she is the ideal character for young girls to get behind. She’s rebellious, intelligent and progressive, the casting of Millie Bobbie Brown is the icing on the cake. If it could have fixed it’s clashing tones, this film would have elevated higher in my thoughts, but for a film I had no idea what I was in for, it is a great surprise to myself that I’m talking about it in this way.
Final Result: 7/10 – Good
Have you seen Enola Holmes? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: ???