3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Harry Bradbeer
Writer: Nancy Springer (novel), Jack Thorne
Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin
Genre: Adventure, Crime, Drama
Rated: PG-13 for some violence
SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: On her 16th birthday, Enola Holmes, younger sister to the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes, wakes to discover that he mother has disappeared. With the prospect of being sent away to a finishing school where she will be taught how to be a proper British wife, Enola embarks on a journey to find her mother.
Review: There have been numerous films featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes. The character has been played by dozens of actors including Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Ian McKellen, Tom Baker, Michael Caine, Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch and Christopher Plummer. You can now add Henry Cavill to the list.
I won’t say that we’ve exhausted the character, but we’ve certainly examined him extensively.
“Enola Holmes” isn’t about Sherlock Holmes. He exists at the edges, occasionally slides into the frame, but this is the story of his younger sister, Enola. Enola, while whip smart and every bit as clever, is not Sherlock in a dress. In fact, part of what makes the film enjoyable is that Enola is still figuring out who she is and where that puts her in the social structure of the world. She’s only 16 years old after all.
You might recognize Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven from “Stranger Things,” but her performance here is radically different. It’s playful, vibrant, self-assured and a pleasure to watch. It’s a role that I’d love to see her return to in the future.
The film’s demographic is teens and younger audiences, but it’s smart enough to entertain adults. There’s a whimsical quality that reminds me of this year’s “The Personal History of David Copperfield.” “Enola Holmes” isn’t nearly as complex or experimental. It is a little more jovial.
Gender inequality is the major theme behind the film. It is set in England 1884 and Mrs. Holmes (Helena Bonham Carter), mother of Sherlock, Enola and elder brother Mycroft (Sam Claflin), as a member of the Women’s Right to Vote movement. Enola has been raised as a free spirit but is left to make her own determination on what her personal politics are. Mycroft is a traditionalist who opposes his mother’s politics. Sherlock isn’t nearly stuffy as Doyle’s original take on the character and he’s more ambiguous in his attitude towards women. Still, I’d say the characterization is more accurate than Robert Downey Jr’s take (which I enjoyed).
“Enola Holmes” is an amusing romp that playfully exists at the fringe of the Sherlock Holmes universe. It features a fantastic performance from Millie Bobby Brown and serves as a pleasant respite from the weightiness of contemporary life while still focusing on the Women’s Right to Vote movement. Highly recommended.