Enola Holmes is pretty fun. It won’t top anyone’s favourite film list or their 2020 best-of. It doesn’t need to. Because it’s harmless, laid-back fun.
Above all else, it is Netflix’s attempt at a blockbuster, and so very obviously a vehicle for Millie Bobby Brown; something which might be the flick’s greatest strength. Her accent feels fake even though she is actually British, and the film flits between exposition and fourth-wall-breaking that at any point it’s hard to tell if Brown should be looking at the camera or behind it. But the entire time, there’s a contagious feeling that she is just loving it.
Frankly, Enola Holmes works so much better if you just let go of the ‘Holmes’, and probably the ‘Enola’ too; just viewing it as Brown gallivanting in period costume. The star-studded cast is maybe wasted, if incredibly enjoyable; the likes of Henry Cavill and Sam Claflin portraying icons Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, who do nothing, Helena Bonham Carter as Enola’s mother, who is on-screen for very little time, and also a whole score of familiar British faces like Adeel Akhtar or Fiona Shaw, who offer mostly plot decoration and that kind of recognition you just can’t quite place.
There is some attempt at vague political commentary, which is a little messy. Enola is frustrated with societal expectations of women – a metaphor clumsily represented by her corset – and Mycroft continually refers to her as his property, all with a heavy helping of bland platitudes about doing the right thing, etc. None of it ever really goes anywhere. That said, currently doing the social media rounds is a great scene where Edith – Enola’s clandestine Suffragette jujutsu instructor – dresses down Sherlock for being too privileged to care about politics; of course, he doesn’t want to change a world that suits him so well.
It’s really best not to overthink Enola Holmes; with particular plot highlights including a prolonged fight scene between our just-turned-sixteen protagonist and a professional assassin, or later, sneaking out of a finishing school to steal what might be the first automobile, with a teenage lord. It’s forgettable, but silly and charming, nonetheless.
Image Credit: IMDb