Enola Holmes (2020)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

Based on a young adult book series, Enola Holmes is a witty and spectacularly entertaining Victorian romp, as an intrepid detective (who really just wants her life back) embarks on a quest to find her mother and discovers a missing marquis in the process.

Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) has had an unusual life. Growing up in a motley old mansion with her mother (Helena Bonham-Carter), instead of learning needlepoint, she discovered how to protect herself, solve crossword puzzles, and kept to a strict regimented regime of daily fencing and fighting lessons. Meanwhile, her older brothers Mycroft (Sam Claftin) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill) are off in London impressing the world with their collective brain set. All seems well. Until one day, Enola wakes up to find her mother has vanished without a word. On her birthday. She left behind a cryptic card and a birthday gift. Well, this just won't do at all! So despite her eldest brother's desire to ship her off to a reform school to receive a proper ladylike polishing, Enola sets out to find out what happened to her mum. Along the way, she falls in with a Marquis (Louis Partridge) who seems to be in peril, leaps off a train, and even dons a corset for a disguise. All in the name of discovery, of course. But what she uncovers, she may not altogether like...

I've read a couple of these novels and they are cute, rambunctious, and clever. The movie should have landed in theaters as a fun, perky blockbuster, but instead went straight to Netflix as a result of the pandemic's closure of most theater chains. There's a lot to like about the flick, from the heroine's perky sarcasm and breaking of the fourth wall to speak into the camera, making us conspirators in her shenanigans, to the colorful costumes, sets, and sinister mystery. It's cheeky and fun, a delightful weekend fare, but a bit like buttered popcorn, enjoyable while it lasts but not meant to leave a lasting impression. The music is great. The acting is decent, sometimes quite good. My only complaint is the re-framing of Sherlock Holmes. I'm not sure who this lazy, mild-mannered, apathetic and "sweet" older brother is, but he's not the manic, arrogant workaholic of the canon novels.

I'm a bit of a stickler for Sherlock Holmes, since he's been my favorite fictional character since at eleven years old, I first discovered him and his incredible brain. I like my Holmes to be... well, Holmes-ish. Proactive, enthusiastic, logical, and driven. Sometimes a tad bit rude. This one seems too soft. It takes him weeks to sort out a mystery that Enola solves in a matter of days, simply because she gets up and does something about things. But I can stand a bit of banality in this Holmes, because the romance between her and the marquis is very cute and her inner and outer monologue to us, the audience, is delightful. If the studio cares to make more, I'll watch them. And if they decide to either leave Holmes off-screen (as the book did, if I remember right) or make him a little more like the original, well, that would be just lovely.

Sexual Content
Cleavage in period gowns.
 
Language:
None.
 
Violence:
People are chased, shot at, jump off trains, and beaten up. Enola must fight for her life several times against an assassin, who throws her around, punches her, and kicks at her; she lands as many blows. A main character appears to be lethally shot; another trips over something and impales his skull on a sharp object; blood pools around his body.

Other:
None.