Solving crimes may be elementary to Sherlock Holmes, but can we say the same for his younger sister? A murder plot, a pompous brother, and a missing mother. The game is afoot in Enola Holmes!
Netflix’s Enola Holmes is the sister to the infamous detective, Sherlock Holmes. Living in the English countryside, Enola has spent her years studying and training under her mother. One day, Enola’s mother leaves without a word of where she is going or why. With her brother’s return and the prospect of nothing more than a domestic life, Enola sets off to find her own future.
Not surprisingly, she stumbles—almost immediately—upon a mystery. Someone is trying to kill the young Marquess Viscount Tewkesbury (try saying that three times fast). Can she solve the crime, save the Marquess, and forge a new path for herself? Well, she is a Holmes after all.
Enola Holmes is a refreshing take on Sherlock Holmes. The storyline is part coming-of-age part mystery. As Enola searches for her mother and saves the Marquess Viscount Tewkesbury, she simultaneously carves out her own place—within her family and society. Though the film is set at the beginning of the 20th century, much of Enola’s story—her desire to learn, succeed, and been seen as an equal—is relatable to modern audiences.
The writing is punchy, the story is intriguing, and—my personal favorite—Enola talks to the camera. This really draws the audience into the story and creates a connection between the Enola and the viewers, which really helps drive home the movie’s feminist themes. In the brief moments when Enola speaks to, or looks at, the camera, we become a part of the story.
This is quite a departure from the typical Sherlock Holmes story, which is famous for the detective’s inability to connect with others around him. Enola may have inherited her brother’s knack for sleuthing, but she’s more than a detached detective. Enola impacts everyone she interacts, challenging their perception of the world. In doing so, Enola shows audiences how to fearlessly live.
Rounding out the film is its cast. Millie Bobby Brown plays Enola as sharp, witty, and tough—with a spark of mischief beneath her brilliant mind. Similarly, Helena Bonham Carter plays Eudoria Holmes, the Holmes mother, as adventurous, determined, and keenly intelligent. Though we mostly see Eudoria in flashbacks, Carter offers a strong performance as the brilliant matriarch of the Holmes family. And the combination of the two is nothing short of perfection.
Finally, no Holmes adaptation would be complete without a bit of mind play. Sherlock has his deductive reasoning, while Enola has anagrams and ciphers. The secret messages throughout the film add a new layer to the traditional mystery. Enola is not solving a single crime; rather, she is undertaking a covert mission to change the world.
The Bottom Line
Smart, fierce, and quite funny, Enola might be the superior Holmes sibling. Enola Holmes is a must-see film.