fri 14/06/2024

Enola Holmes review – a new Sherlock-related franchise is afoot | reviews, news & interviews

Enola Holmes review – a new Sherlock-related franchise is afoot

Enola Holmes review – a new Sherlock-related franchise is afoot

Millie Bobby Brown gives the patriarchy what-for in a charming young adult adventure

Stranger Thing's star, Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes

Its no secret that Arthur Conan Doyles most famous creation lays claim to more appearances on screen than any other fictional character. Over the past several decades, weve seen Sherlock as a pugilist action-hero, a modern-day sleuth, and in a painfully unfunny slapstick guise.

Now theres a feminist spin in which "The World's First Consulting Detective" is pushed aside in favour of his younger sister Enola, played by Millie Bobby Brown, in a peppy adventure yarn.

Based on the young adult novels by Nancy Springer and adapted by Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), we are thrust back into the 19th Century and introduced to the youngest Holmes sibling. Raised in the halcyon environs of the ancestral home with her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), Enolas days are free from patriarchal influence. Mother and daughter spend their time, not at needlepoint, but in a robust education involving archery, chess, and reading Mary Wollstonecraft. That is until Enola turns 16 and her mother vanishes, leaving behind a series of clues. 

Happy Famileys - The Homles siblings

Enter her brothers, Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin), the latter of whom is less shocked by his mothers disappearance than the free-spirited nature of his ward. While he tries to bundle her into a finishing school, Enola hatches a plan to find her mother that involves more wit, guile and intelligence than both of her siblings combined. 

Fleabag director, Harry Bradbeer has crafted a charming adventure, which once again employs direct-to-camera asides, peppily delivered by Brown, that bring the audience into her confidence as she narrates her own tale. Its an effective device, although very different in tone to Fleabag

The construction of the actual mystery at the heart of Enola Holmes is a so-so affair. As a Holmes spin-off it works well-enough, although it can’t hold a candle to Barry Levinsons gothic delight, Young Sherlock Holmes. Cavills Holmes is probably the most dashing ever committed to screen, but is very much pushed to the shadows, whilst Caflins Mycroft is a wonderful mixture of moustache-twitching malevolence and misguided paternal care. 

The film’s greatest success is that Bradbeer has successfully translated Springer’s very contemporary-feeling feminism from the novel to a narrative which centres around the advent of womens suffrage. Paint your own picture Enola. Dont be thrown off course by other people, especially men,” intones Eudoria near the beginning of the film. Lines like this, laced with a light feminism, show this Sherlock spin-off has more to offer than first meets the eye. 

At every turn we witness the young, puckish Enola outwitting the men around her, whether rescuing  the foppish lord Viscount Tewksbury (Louis Partridge) from gun-toting assassins, or escaping Mycrofts plans to make her a respectable lady. And at the centre of it all is a standout performance from Millie Bobby Brown, who shows that, young as she is, she has much to offer and the signs of a very bright career ahead of her. 

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