While searching for her missing mother, intrepid teen Enola Holmes uses her sleuthing skills to outsmart big brother Sherlock and help a runaway lord.
Runtime: 2hr 3m
Director: Harry Bradbeer
Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter, Louis Partridge, Burn Gorman, Adeel Akhtar, Susan Wokoma, Frances de la Tour, Fiona Shaw
Information Page: https://www.newonnetflix.info/info/81277950
“Enola Holmes” is ranked in the number one spot of the Netflix top ten chart today just six days after it landed on Wednesday 23rd September 2020. In our house, we had been counting down the days after we were hooked by the trailer. We even moved our regular Friday movie night to Wednesday so we could enjoy it on its day of release.
The Enola Holmes novels by Nancy Springer were read by young fan and child actress, Millie Bobby Brown, she was excited at the idea of playing the role of Enola on screen but at the time she was too young to play her. Enola is 14 years old in the book series and is 16 in the movie. Nevertheless, Brown’s desire to see a film adaptation saw her take this to her father and they set wheels-in-motion to make it happen. With the help of writer Jack Thorne and later director Harry Bradbeer, by the time the concept became a reality, Brown had come of age and made a household name for herself through the Netflix Original Series ‘Stranger Things’. The cinematography of the film is beautiful with the murky city and green countryside contrasted with beautiful transitions to depict the reality of the Victorian era almost in the style of The Railway Children classic in some scenes. Bradbeer was quoted recently during an interview saying that he had studied history and therefore had a good idea of the detail of the period and this certainly comes through, particularly in the indoor scenes.
The movie begins with Enola crashing through the fourth wall (an almost guaranteed opening scene hit style with the modern world). We learn in the first scenes that her father has died and that she has been raised by her mother. We hear she is en-route to ‘collect’ her brothers from the railway station. They arrive to help find their mother who appears to have disappeared leaving nothing but some artistry tools as a gift with the housekeeper – their only staff at the house – much to the dismay of Mycroft (Enola’s much older brother of whom she is now ward). Unlike in the book series, Sherlock is not an out and out dislike of Enola. In fact, he seems quite endeared by her and her detective skills and sees her as a playful adversary. Unlike Mycroft, who wishes to make a decent lady of Enola to present her to society, Sherlock appears to help Enola where he can throughout the film, although she does not appear to need his help.
In her swift escape from her brothers and the prospect of boarding school and in a bid to find her mother, she sets out in disguise, following the clues in clever ciphers left for her by her mother Eudoria Holmes (Helena Bonham Carter). She soon meets Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) ‘a useless boy’ as he is described by Enola herself and other characters hereon in. As a woman and mother of girls and boys, I am not entirely sure how I feel about the boy being portrayed as useless. Whilst it is beautiful and important to have a strong female lead for girls to be inspired by in movies, I’m not sure that this should come at the cost of men being ridiculed, only for them to turn into lost puppies and lovingly heel to the foot of the female. That said, the stereotypical macho male lead is so rooted in the industry that I doubt one feminist film or even many, will achieve much by way of damaging the masculinity of male characters in general. For now, we revel in a female lead defying the sexism that is still a real issue in modern times. As a young-adult genre, the film makes no attempt and rightly so to address the horrendous injustice that women suffered in that period. Instead, it offers an invitation to discussion surrounding the politics and gender inequality that underpins the movie. We never really find out where Enola’s mum has been or how exactly she has been involved in the women’s rights movement but we know that she is indeed heavily involved from Enola’s flashbacks and the clues she finds.
The narrative flows beautifully as Enola navigates her way in the big world. Her self-defence tactics taught by her mother come in more than useful with action-filled fight scenes. Enola was not taught the ability to fight in the novels, but it seems fitting in the movie made for modern teenagers. She still possesses the qualities from the novel though. The ability to watch and listen are paramount in Enola’s teachings both in novel and film and the fighting is merely a necessary evil. Of course, it is her perception, eagerness, intelligence, and wit that save the day, as it should be.
Whilst the film ends with a reasonably happy ending it still leaves the audience with an open end for the character of Enola who will no doubt encounter more troubles as she cycles off into the male dominated city with no hat or gloves, hair flying, innocence unbounded. There has been a nod of consideration for a sequel from both actors and directors. Whether or not this will come to fruition is yet to be confirmed. Watching the film with my daughters and husband, interestingly the male in the room did not find the film quite as brilliant as he had expected it to be, although he did enjoy it.
The film is rated a 12 in the UK and we felt it suitable to include our 10-year-old daughter, given the context. This was fine apart from perhaps one fast but brutal scene. It shocked me and the girls, however, they were little phased by the fleeting scene and it is quickly out measured by the peril that the lead characters find themselves in immediately after.
There is no ‘happily ever after’, love story feel ending neither with the love interest nor the mother which adds to the feminist attraction of the movie and in my opinion is better for it. The characters complement each other and bring to life a piece of political history. A great family watch for older children/younger teens and with it firmly sat in the top spot this week and the positive reviews it has received; it seems I am very much agreed with.
Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!