Everyone has heard of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes of 221B Baker Street. However, the Holmes headlining this movie isn’t from Arthur Conan Doyle’s imagination. Nancy Springer’s book series, “The Enola Holmes Mysteries” (2006–10), was the foundation for Netflix’s new film, “Enola Holmes” (2020), where audiences are introduced to Enola (Millie Bobby Brown), the younger sister of Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill). Millie Bobby Brown of “Stranger Things” (2016–) fame plays the titular character alongside Helena Bonham Carter as Eudoria Holmes and Louis Partridge as Tewksbury.
As expected from the “Holmes” moniker, mysteries and the twisting plot of “Enola Holmes” leave viewers questioning what they know about the story every few minutes.
“Enola Holmes” is a modern — yet historical — coming-of-age tale that will inspire young girls. Enola isn’t the detective’s female sidekick but the headstrong, stubborn sleuth herself. She refuses to fit into the role expected of her by ‘polite’ society. She can be ladylike and graceful, but in the next instant will run off and throw manners to the wind. Enola’s dynamic characterization leads her down paths of failed bike rides, tearooms doubling as martial arts training studios for women and introducing herself as a widow to avoid answering questions. Brown’s portrayal of the young detective is fantastic. She once again proves to audiences how much depth she can bring to a character through facial expressions and tone of voice.
“Enola Holmes” has a different approach to how it shows audiences Enola’s deductive reasoning compared to other recent Sherlock Holmes adaptations. We get to see how her mind catches details in flashbacks, which allows more answers to become clear, while creating more questions for both Enola and the audience. Another way the audience becomes privy to Enola’s insights is when Enola directly addresses the audience. Not many movies choose to use fourth-wall breaks due to the possible fallback, but the daring decision pays off as it adds greatly to the storyline and surprises audiences, keeping them hooked into the story.
Along with witty banter, the score of “Enola Holmes” has a youthful energy and upbeat tone that follows Enola throughout her journey. Composer Daniel Pemberton, who notably also wrote music for “Birds of Prey” (2020) and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (2018), adds to the mystery of the film by heightening your curiosity with high notes and steady beats. While it has similar music to past Sherlock adaptations, the score for “Enola Holmes” feels unique. It shies away from the darker sound heard in mysteries and suspense movies.
Similarly, Viscount Tewksbury, Marquess of Basilwether, is on his own journey to escape the hold of his family in favor of his own dreams. Partridge, an up-and-coming actor whom you’re sure to see in many projects to come, plays Tewksbury spectacularly and compliments Brown as the movie’s main male character.
A notable attribute of the film is that a portion of it takes place on the eve of a reform bill vote in Parliament’s House of Lords. As we approach a significant vote ourselves, this movie feels especially relevant. At one point, you hear “All votes for men!” as Enola explores London. Political commentary isn’t often found in movies marketed toward family audiences, but “Enola Holmes” does it in a way that avoids offending any particular modern political stances. It also shows audiences young and old why it’s so important for marginalized communities to be involved in politics.
Filled with word games, codes, combat, an assassination plot, battles of wits, fencing, historical London and feminism, this movie has something for everyone: families, adults and college students alike.
Now it’s your turn to go watch this fantastic movie and solve the mystery along with Enola. Are you up to it? The game is afoot!