Enola Holmes: A clever adventure brimming with feminist energy
Sherlock Holmes, the famous fictional detective, is a name with which many are familiar. The adventures of this super-sleuth date back to the 1800’s. Since then, he has been one of the most portrayed literary characters in film and television history. Rather than revamping the classic character, 2020 brings us a fresh take on the Holmes name in the form of Sherlock’s intelligent and witty younger sister, Enola.
After Enola Holmes (Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown) awakens on her 16th birthday to find her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) has disappeared, her life is irrevocably changed. She soon finds her days that were filled with reading, combat practice, and intellectual endeavors have vanished almost as quick as her mom. She is then promptly forced under the care of her two older brothers Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill). Enola, who has been raised to be self-sufficient, rebels at the idea of being sent to a lady’s finishing school that the uptight Mycroft quickly suggests.
Rather than be trapped in the living nightmare of domesticity, Enola follows a secret set of clues left by Eudoria to London, where she becomes entangled with a mystery involving the young runaway lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge). Enola, simultaneously grappling with her mother’s disappearance, sets out to solve a conspiracy revolving around Tewkesbury that could change the course of history.
A major theme present in Enola Holmes is that of independence, shown so cleverly in the backwards spelling of Enola, which means “alone”. Enola doesn’t beckon the help of her famous brother with the puzzles before her, but rather steps out of Sherlock’s shadow to do things in her own fashion, making a name for herself along the way. Milly Bobby Brown breathes exceptional life into the character, whether she is running rampant through the city disguised as a boy or monologuing to the viewers concerning her escapades.
Traces of equality and social reform also appear throughout the film. In the movie, England is on the verge of change, as the House of Lords gears up to vote for a Reform Bill that would extend voting rights to women, bringing widespread representation throughout the countryside. These ideas of democracy and inclusion, fought for by a group of radical suffragists, add a deeper meaning to the film without overshadowing the adventures of our main heroine. The film is able to be light on its feet while addressing the harmful roots of inequality. These aspects are made even that more tangible with Enola being a young woman fighting for her own liberty in a patriarchal society.
Although Enola Holmes has a playful and elementary tone that is associated more with family-friendly movies, its script, plot, and characters are clever and dimensional. There is a surprising depth present that manages to balance the light cheerfulness and marks of sophistication while allowing the audience to indulge in a good mystery.
Before Enola Holmes, Sherlock brought prominence to the Holmes name, but Enola gives her well-known brother a run for his money in this captivating new film.