Paint your own picture, Enola. Don’t be thrown off by other people.Helena Bonham Carter, Enola Holmes
Release Date: September 23rd, 2020 | Director: Harry Bradbeer
Enola Holmes follows the story of Sherlock Holmes’s little sister, Enola. Enola, being many years younger than her older brothers, has only ever known life with her mother. On her sixteenth birthday, Enola’s mother mysteriously goes missing, forcing Enola to greet her brothers. When Mycroft and Sherlock’s appearance could potentially lead to Enola being sent to finishing school, she runs away to London in search of her mother and to avoid her brothers. On the train ride to London, she runs into Lord Tewekesbury whose life is in danger due to his political ideologies. As Enola attempts to outrun her brothers, find her mother, and help this Lord escape with his life she finds that sometimes the most obvious clues are the ones that exist right under her nose.
I really wanted to like this movie. I thought that everyone had acted really brilliantly and the script is extremely nuanced especially for being a children’s movie. I just felt as though it was too predictable to be enjoyable for anyone outside of its target audience. Millie Bobby Brown encapsulated her role as the youngest Holmes very well, adopting the typical fast talking habits of Sherlock and depicting her own intelligence in a way that didn’t feel like she was just a carbon copy of her brother. If you’re watching this movie for her stunning acting, I would say that she carries the movie, even if some of the aspects of her character are a little unbelievable. In terms of Sam Claflin and Henry Cavill, they both acted well, even if they were both a little overshadowed by Brown. I do think that Sam Calflin played Mycroft really well and for a nod towards the hair and makeup team, I could barely recognize him when he first appeared on screen. I wasn’t even aware that he was in this movie but I was pleasantly surprised by his portrayal of Mycroft and I’m interested to see what else he’s working on. In terms of Henry Cavill, I didn’t have an issue with his acting per se, but rather the overall characterization of Sherlock. While I’m aware that this version of Sherlock is based on a later depiction of the character, I almost would’ve preferred to see the Sherlock of the BBC series and his reaction towards his little sister. I think that Sherlock’s “I care about you” in the middle of the movie jolted me out of the fact that this is based on a character with extensive depictions. I almost felt like an unspoken alliance between Enola and Sherlock would’ve been more interesting to those who are familiar with the other depictions.
In terms of the plot, while I was mildly bored by the obvious red herring and the “plot twist”, and the neat way in which the movie was wrapped up, I realize that I do have to view this movie through the eyes of the target audience. It’s not that the plot is boring, in fact, the action scenes were very well-filmed (take notes Marvel) and Enola’s interactions with varying characters didn’t feel forced or unnecessary. It almost does feel as though the plot is very blatantly trying to make a mystery out of something that really isn’t. I was more interested in the plot of Lord Tewkesbury than the plot with Enola and her mother and that mostly comes from that fact that aside from Enola’s narration, the audience never really sees any initial interactions between the two. The flashbacks are entertaining, but I almost felt like they were explaining how Enola came to be so skilled instead of focusing on the relationship and why Enola feels so compelled to search for her mother when she clearly wants to be gone. Her fear of being sent to finishing school felt almost a bit contrived. I think the movie did well by choosing to focus on Lord Tewkesbury because that was where most of the intrigue of the story was and the segue between Enola’s focus on her mother and her interest in the Tewkesbury mystery was extremely natural. I think that the movie knew what it wanted to do and maybe could’ve gotten there a little quicker but this almost feels like a franchise-to-be and the pacing reflected that.
Overall, it’s a cute movie. It appeals to its target audience in a really strong way and my biggest criticism is that the characterization of Sherlock feels so off that it’s hard to suspend disbelief because I’ve known one consistent characterization of Sherlock that is vastly different from this one. Sherlock in adaptations has seemed to take on his own life that feels different from Conan Doyle’s canon and this movie just wanders from that depiction a bit too much for my liking. It’s a cute mystery and I recommend it for kids and for those aren’t all too familiar with the Sherlock universe.