REVIEW: FEMINISM AND MYSTERY IN ‘ENOLA HOLMES’

LIAM EASLEY, ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT DIRECTOR

Of the endless adaptations of Sir Conan Doyle’s classic character Sherlock Holmes, one of the more intriguing is the story of his younger sister, Enola Holmes. Originally conceived by author Nancy Springer, this first-wave feminist character has been reimagined by director Harry Bradbeer and screenwriter Jack Thorne in the 2020 film “Enola Holmes,” a Netflix original.

Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”) and Henry Cavill (“Man of Steel,” “The Witcher”) star in Netflix’s “Enola Holmes.” Photo courtesy of IMBD.

Enola, played by Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things,” “Godzilla”) had an intimate relationship with her mother, who raised her alone in the house for the first 16 years of her daughter’s life. Suddenly, her mother disappeared, and Enola was given to her eldest brother, Mycroft, her new legal guardian who swore to put her in a finishing school where any trace of independence would be washed clean.

Naturally, she ran away, and in the heat of the moment got caught up with a runaway boy. You guessed it — they fell in love. The love interest was unnecessary, but it did add a subplot that eventually overshadowed the main plot of finding Enola’s lost mother, so much so that the main plot became an afterthought. With this mess of plots, it was surprising to see that the film maintained its structure in a cohesive fashion.

Keep in mind that this movie is just shy of two hours, and it would not have been so long if it did not have the love interest and the Hollywood-esque drama. However, there were other, and much more unnecessary, things that added to the runtime. Specifically, the times where Enola broke the fourth wall. In fact, the film even started out this way, which was not a great way to kick things off.

Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes. Photo courtesy of IMBD.

The moments when Enola broke the fourth wall were very unnecessary, and they failed to fulfill their intended purpose: to make the film more lighthearted. There were times when it was not immediately obvious if the dialogue was diegetic or non-diegetic. At one point, she even asked the audience what she should do next. I half expected random objects to obtain a glowing outline and for everyone to start singing “I’m the map.”

While burdened by a rough start, poor decisions regarding the fourth wall and Disney-like teen romance, the movie did have thought-provoking points about feminism that were relevant in late-19th century England as well as now, which is something to think about. In a way, the underground gunpowder plot-like progressivism that was hinted at was the movie’s most redeeming quality. That being said, if you are watching this for good mystery only, I would recommend looking elsewhere.

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