When it comes to iconic literary characters, Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled household name. Over the years, there have been many screen adaptions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s super sleuth. Although other Holmes characters, such as Mycroft, have been explored throughout various films and series, one character that has never appeared on screen is Enola Holmes.
Sherlock and Mycroft’s much younger sister was not a creation of Conan Doyle’s, but of author Nancy Springer. Enola made her debut in Springer’s series of novels published in the mid 2000’s, which feature the title character in her own investigative adventures set loosely within the Sherlock canon. Netflix’s brand new film brings Enola to life for the first time, capturing all of her essence and attributes in a fun and family-friendly mystery.
Set in 1884, Enola’s story is in the midst of late Victorianism, allowing the narrative to be enriched by historical occurrences such as the women’s suffrage movement. We learn that Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) and her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) spend many years alone together following the death of her father and departure of her brothers Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claffin). Despite their close bond, Eudoria clearly values privacy. Though all slips into turmoil as she goes missing, leaving Enola in the dark on the night of her 16th birthday. Convinced that this is a puzzle set up by her mother, Enola escapes to London on a mission to locate Eudoria while consequently leaving her brothers on a wild goose chase to find the pair of them.
This story is a completely fresh take on the Holmes family. Not only do we get to dive into completely new characters, but we also get to see new versions of Mycroft and Sherlock. Cavill’s version of Sherlock is less impulsive and more mellow than Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr’s renditions, while Mycroft becomes a character embodied by patriarchy, which is a perfect contrast to Enola’s headstrong attitude. It’s really refreshing to see new versions of these much-loved characters in situations we have never seen them in before.
Stylistically, this is also a breath of fresh air for the Holmes mythos. We’ve seen versions in modern day and darker versions in the classic Victorian setting, but this iteration is very charming with a whimsical aesthetic comparable to the Harry Potter Franchise. It’s visually graceful and takes full advantage of the natural beauty found within English countrysides and historical buildings that compliment the narrative so well.
The cast features a selection of well known talent, but ultimately, this is Millie Bobby Brown’s film. Enola Holmes truly feels like a transitional role for the actress as she begins her journey from playing children to more older, strong and independent women. It’s evident that she had a blast playing this role – she does a fantastic job capturing Enola’s wit and cheekiness. Helena Bonham Carter unfortunately does not get too much screen time, but when she is present, she is fantastic as per usual. Cavill and Claffin do a great job as the Holmes Brothers as well, they entertainingly balance out the chaos of Enola’s adventures.
Enola Holmes is genuinely a fun film to watch; it comes across very light and enjoyable. It’s quite entertaining solving mysteries alongside these characters, opening the door to more possibilities for Netflix. From the costume and set design to the writing and performances, this is a very well-crafted and compelling adventure – great for audiences of any age! It feels like such a perfect time for this to come out as we have not seen too many new releases throughout the pandemic. This tale gives us the comfort of characters we know and love with a brand new style and rhythm.