Enola Holmes provides fresh take to Sherlock story

Millie Bobby Brown play Sherlock Holmes’ sister in the Netflix film Enola Holmes.

According to Guinness World Records, there is not a single literary character who has been portrayed as frequently as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s eminent detective Sherlock Holmes. 

Greats such as Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Caine, Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, and even John Cleese have left their mark on the character, and with each depiction it seems like it becomes harder and harder to differentiate one’s performance from the last person to step into the pipe and deerstalker. 

This oversaturation (which is exacerbated by the fact that Sherlock Holmes is a public domain character) means the detective’s universe is ripe for many a reinterpretation. Disney made the character a mouse, Cumberbatch portrayed him as a modern-day “high-functioning sociopath,” and now Netflix and Henry Cavill have turned him into something unheard of: a supporting character. 

Enola Holmes is instead the story of Sherlock and Mycroft’s younger sister, a brilliant detective in her own right, and her attempt to find their missing mother. It is a light, bubbly film that is a whole lot of fun despite some pacing issues and a couple of heavy-handed moral lessons. 

Millie Bobby Brown stars as the titular Enola, and she is every bit as brilliant here as a Victorian tomboy as she is when playing a psychic runaway with a taste for Eggos in Stranger Things. She emanates charisma and youthful energy, making it impossible not to smile whenever she turns to the camera to say something silly and/or clever. 

This not only gives Enola a way to vocalize her thoughts while alone, but also makes the viewer feel like they are right there on the adventure with her. Accompanying Brown the entire way is an upbeat score, amusing visuals, and an excellent supporting cast. But the movie is not without its flaws. 

One of the things that struck me was how little the Sherlock Holmes mythology seemed to matter to the overall story. Henry Cavill’s Sherlock barely has anything to do, Mycroft is reduced to a strawman anti-feminist, Watson doesn’t seem to exist (or at least has not come into the picture yet), and I get the feeling that the movie (and the novels it was based on) only had the Holmes connection so they had some built-in name recognition when released. 

The plot is decent enough, although the fast and fun story definitely loses a lot of steam when Enola decides to help a new friend with a problem that is not relevant at all to the main plot until the very end. The life lessons the movie attempts to teach on the way are also a bit generic… be yourself, don’t let others decide who you should be, etc., and the feministic overtones are welcome if a bit overdone (one scene is almost entirely devoted to telling Sherlock how good he has it as a white male). 

I am, however, most definitely not the target audience for this film, the lessons are important, and I certainly won’t begrudge teenage girls another kick-ass feminine hero to look up to and learn from in the meantime. 

Overall, Enola Holmes is a fun family film with a little for everyone. So fire up that Netflix account and get that game afoot.