Review: ‘Enola Holmes’ is a joy for the whole family

Millie Bobby Brown is already a star. Her role in the Netflix series Stranger Things established her as a young actress to watch and her role in last years Godzilla: King of the Monsters cemented that she can indeed act opposite giant CGI monsters on the big screen as well as the small.

There’s always a danger in an actor taking on iconic roles at an early point in their career that they might be typecast. With the release of Enola Holmes this is, I can firmly say, not a danger that Millie Bobby Brown needs to worry about.

She’s great, and this is a good movie.

The story begins on the morning of Enola Holmes 16th birthday. She has lived her entire life with her mother (Helena Bonham Carter)on a remote country estate learning to be a free and independent thinker, and through this process has developed the same keen eye and gift for deductive reasoning as her brother Sherlock.

This particular morning though, her mother has disappeared and has left only a box of small handmade keepsakes behind. If you’re guessing that these keepsakes are clues to the mystery of the missing mother, you would be right. Enola Holmes may be a new spin on the Holmes template, but not that new.

Now the ward of her other brother Mycroft, Enola breaks free, has a train to London, and gets involved with a useless boy, and starts to work on the case. I won’t spoil the mystery for you, but if you are familiar with the way the best Sherlock Holmes stories work then, as Sherlock himself says in this film, the truth is always there waiting for you to see it.

Enola Holmes

The story is told via the young Ms Holmes breaking the fourth wall to speak to us as well as flashing back to various lessons her mother taught her in their 16 year school of life, as well as by the plot unfolding before us, and the screenplay is really quite good at the misdirection that makes these stories work rather than the withholding of key pieces that make them frustrating.

Brown, doing double duty as lead actress and producer, is having the time of her life with he character. She’s charismatic and full of life, and her performance will keep you glued to the screen to see if you’re seeing what she’s seeing.

Her brothers, played by Henry Cavill and Sam Claflin, are always one step behind her much to Sherlock’s delight and Mycrotf’s chagrin. It’s here that we see the one major deviation from the source material in that while Enola shares Sherlock’s deductive mind, Mycroft does not, but given the way the story plays out and the function his character plays in it, this is not a problem.

Brown has great chemistry with Cavill in particular, as their characters inevitably connect, and with Louis Partridge, the aforementioned useless boy she meets on her adventure to London. Her time on screen with Helena Bonham Carter is limited mostly to rapidly cut flashback sequences but it’s clear they have a real connection, too.

Enola Holmes was originally intended for a theatrical release this summer before the ongoing worldwide pandemic ground the theatre business to a halt, and while I am sad that I didn’t get to see it on as big a screen as possible with a big crowd, I’m glad it’s out there for the home market as a fun, family-friendly, engaging film. Clearly intended as the first film in a franchise, I wonder what the future holds for the character, but in the meantime definitely add it to your watch list.

Enola Holmes premieres on Netflix on Wednesday September 23rd.

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