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Film Review: “Enola Holmes” May Be Over-the-Top, but Its Loveable Heroine Makes It Work

Written by: Hannah Tran | September 22nd, 2020

Film poster: “Enola Holmes”

Enola Holmes (Harry Bradbeer, 2020) 2½ out of 4 stars.

Meet Enola Holmes, the younger sister of a certain star detective we all know. Vivacious, bold and completely cut off from most of the world outside of her equally spirited mother, Enola is unlike most others her age. But when her mother suddenly disappears, it is up to Enola to use her mother’s wisdom and her brother’s wits to solve the case and the myriad mysteries that come with it. While it may at times feel excessive, Henry Bradbeer’s Enola Holmes is a colorful adaptation that is often just as fun as its premise sounds and will be sure to delight professional and novice sleuths alike.

Spearheading this playful story is Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown, whose Enola is bursting with a unique energy and charisma. All around, the supporting cast is equally strong, each individual feeling perfectly suited to their part in a more than commendable ensemble. Though I wish some specific characters could have been featured more heavily, their eccentric personalities paired with the movie’s playful and imaginative backdrop of late 19th-century London is hard to resist. 

l-r: Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes and Susan Wokoma as Edith. ©Legendary

It is a shame, however, that so many of these ideas are let down by a disjointed structure and a mildly underwhelming mystery. Writer Jack Thorne (Radioactive) has trouble maintaining momentum as he tries to navigate the numerous threads of intrigue he introduces. Unlike her brother, Sherlock, Enola’s sleuthing skills often fail to lead her very far, but her grit, daring and determination do. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads many of the film’s most shocking twists to feel as if they fell straight onto Enola’s lap. The final and most emotional one, at least, comes and goes much too quickly, despite the relatively drawn-out epilogue.

Its offbeat editing certainly doesn’t help establish a solid rhythm. Furthermore, the attempted edginess with its use of intertitles and absolute demolition of the fourth wall only occasionally feel fun and engaging. Other times, it feels as if it doesn’t trust its audience enough to be paying attention. Either way, it ends up feeling tiresome and only extends the length of an already overlong movie.

l-r: Henry Cavill as Sherlock Holmes, Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes and Sam Claflin as Mycroft Holmes. Credit Robert Viglaski ©Legendary

But with these modern flairs comes a modern message about feminism that feels well-integrated and sincere enough to surely charm young and old, alike. Enola, like so many of the women around her, is a fiery, relatable and endlessly likeable heroine. While Enola’s tale may not be technically flawless, it certainly is engaging enough to make room for a new Holmes in our hearts.

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Hannah Tran is a film critic and filmmaker from Las Vegas, Nevada. She is currently studying film and English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In addition to her studies, Hannah works as a film screener for the Las Vegas Film Festival and publishes an independent zine focused on highlighing Asian American filmmaking.

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