What if Sherlock Holmes had a kid sister who’s equally adventurous and she has a bit of Wonder Woman style of naiveness in her? The result is Enola Holmes - created by Nancy Speinger. The series of stories based on the non-canon sister of the greatest fictional detective Mr. Holmes is a runaway hit among the young adult readers with some innovative and nostalgia inducing plot elements. Add a bit of feminism and coming of age drama - there you have it!
Now, it has become a Netflix movie with some highly talented cast. Consider Millie Bobby Brown who headlined Godzilla: King of the Monsters and known for her performance as Eleven in Stranger Things in the title role. Superman actor Henry Cavill as Sherlock Holmes and Bellatrix Lestrange of Harry Potter series - Helena Bonham Carter the renowned British actress - as Eudora Holmes (the enigmatic mother of Mycroft, Sherlock and Enola).
A turning point in history
The movie is set against the backdrop of an England that was on the cusp of change, with an expansion of voting rights being decided in the House of Lords. Women’s rights movements and the work of suffragists for wide representation in the public posts are successfully balanced with our heroine’s adventures. The year was 1884. Funnily, the actual adventures of Sherlock Holmes weren’t recorded till a decade later. Anyway, it’s an entertaining film.
The story of the film revolves expectedly around Enola Holmes who is on a mission to find her mother who went missing on Enola’s 16th birthday. She’s currently under the care of her elder brothers - Overbearing eldest brother Mycroft who wants to get her educated and Sherlock Holmes who’s more into his own life and activities. She wants to escape her brothers and live life on her own terms.
It’s a tough job for the teenage sister of Sherlock Holmes, whose age and gender make her face one tough situation after another. But her will won’t be broken. How and if she could find her mother, what was the factor behind her missing, and what sort of perils she had to overcome in her journey through this form the rest of the story.
Enola - The right sister of Sherlock
Enola, who has been raised by her mother to be independent, refuses to have her identity defined by domesticity. She had read a wide variety of books. She was trained in martial arts. She’s quick in her thinking. Logical. And smart for her own age. Just. The. Right. Sister. For. Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
Motivated by a set of clues left by her mother, Enola escapes to London. On her way to the city, she crosses paths with Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge in a pleasantly good performance), a young lord also on the run from a suffocating fate. The pair form a predictable (but no less tender) bond.
On the surface, “Enola Holmes” is about a young woman in search of herself, but the film’s value comes from a deeper investigation of power, familial bonds and the risks of changing a world determined to stay the same.
The idea of a young, female version of Sherlock Holmes using her gifts to fight the patriarchy in the Victorian England during England’s women’s-suffrage movement is a luscious idea to begin with. But injecting too many ideas into a relatively short runtime (124 minutes) makes for a confusing watch for those who are not well versed with Sherlock Holmes and his hundreds of non-canon stories.
But Harry Bradbeer efficiently made this film a lighter watch with some thrilling action scenes sprinkled here and there. The music and cinematography are atmospheric. Just go and watch it. Makes for a fun ride on a weekend.
Rating: 3 out of 5