Kid Sister/Sleuth (Film Review: “Enola Holmes”)

A charming, adventure-filled Feminist reimagining of the Sherlock Holmes legend, about the brilliant kid sister whose destiny is the family business.

SnapShot Plot

The much anticipated Enola Holmes stars the enchanting Millie Bobby Brown (of Stranger Things fame) as the teenaged sister of legendary British sleuth, Sherlock Holmes in a vehicle heaven-sent for this rising Netflix star. Based on the popular young adult novels by author Nancy Springer, this film is an adaptation of the first book in the series, entitled “The Case of the Missing Marquess”.

We meet Enola as a precocious girl with a Feminist mother (an anomaly in Victorian England) who appears in flashback, played by Helena Bonham Carter. Mother and daughter have lived an idyllic life on the (crumbling) family estate, far from the madding crowd and the affairs of London city life, and also far from Enola’s two older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock, who have grown up elsewhere. By this time, Sherlock Holmes (played by Henry Cavill) is already the most famous sleuth in the land, yet he begrudgingly defers to his cranky older brother, Mycroft (Sam Clafin). Eudoria Holmes is a singularly unorthodox parent, whose idea of a proper education for her daughter involves not only a voracious reading curriculum but a proficiency in intellectual puzzles and a solid aptitude in hand-to-hand combat. Her insistence on raising a completely self-reliant daughter comes in handy when, on the occasion of Enola’s 16th birthday, Eudoria is nowhere to be found, seemingly having vanished into thin air. When Sherlock and Mycroft arrive home to the sister they barely recognize, they soon discover that their estranged mother has no intention of returning to her home and even to the beloved daughter she’s so carefully cultivated.

That’s when Enola takes her life into her own confident hands and embarks on a journey to London, convinced her mother has left her quite deliberate clues as to her whereabouts, sure that she wants to be found. What awaits the precocious and courageous Enola is a journey of adventure and self-discovery that has her crossing paths with a charming teenaged aristocrat whose life is in danger. . . a mystery she simply can’t resist solving.

Parting Shot

Directed by Harry Bradbeer (Fleabag; Killing Eve) with a crackling, snappy screenplay by Jack Thorne, Enola Holmes was co-produced by Millie Bobby Brown herself, who promises future installments in the series. That seems to be a shoo-in, as Enola Holmes has become the #1 movie on its streaming home, Netflix, after only one day on the platform. In fact, I predict the same kind of success for the Enola Holmes anthology as the Harry Potter books and movies, and hope that Millie Bobby Brown – like Daniel Radcliffe before her – will transcend this character (and her iconic role of Eleven in Stranger Things) and the small screen for larger and more compelling challenges as she matures. She’s that good, that you see no barrier or ceiling to talent with this kind of self-awareness and tenacity behind it.

Another winning factor of Enola Holmes is the joy of hearing Millie Bobby Brown’s own voice, both en scene and in the occasional and clever narration straight to the camera. In Stranger Things (at least in the first season) Eleven barely spoke more than two words, and even as the show progressed, her character was anything but loquacious. . . and too she assumed a flat American accent which is far from the delightfully mischievous tone of Enola’s often flamboyant personality.

For those viewers who assume Enola Holmes is some kind of brother and sister buddy picture, disappointment awaits. Fans of Henry Cavill (The Witcher; Superman) will not see the older brother taking his little sister under his wing and teaching her the tricks of the trade. If anything, the part Sherlock plays in this delightful romp of a mystery is that of a curious bystander coming to appreciate the sister he never knew and recognizing that the art of sleuthing may very well be hard-wired into the family. But then again, there is Mycroft.

Enola Holmes is presently streaming on Netflix.

Norma’s Streaming Picks is proud to partner on a fantastic site for Baby Boomers, Midcentury/Modern (presently known as Pandemic Diaries) as well as right here at home. I invite you to go there for more great content!

YouTube Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d0Zf9sXlHk

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