“Perhaps it’s the world that needs changing,” - Enola Holmes.
Who is Enola Holmes? Upon seeing the trailer for the new Netflix film, I felt puzzled. I had read a handful of the Sherlock Holmes adventures when I was in high school and I never remembered hearing about a Holmes sister. In 2006, author Nancy Springer brought Enola Holmes into the world with The Case of the Missing Marquess. Her YA (young adult) series tapped a similar vein a la Nancy Drew (who also celebrated their 90th publication anniversary this April), only Enola was solving mysteries in a Jack the Ripper era London.
The Netflix adaptation centers on fictional, young Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things) who’s mother (Helena Bonham Carter of Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) has gone missing. Sherlock (Henry Cavill of Justice League) and Mycroft Holmes (Sam Claflin of Me Before You) arrive to take Enola away to finishing school. Headstrong, Enloa escapes and follows a series of clues left behind by her mother. Along the way she befriends a young viscount, escaping his own family fate entwined in a conspiracy.
Enola dazzles with her savvy quips and energy. Like her older brother, Enola is a skilled fighter, sharp dresser, and an overall revolutionary. The film does upon occasion break the fourth wall, which can be annoying to some. Enola Holmes is fast-paced and witty. The film is upbeat and fun. It feels like a welcome distraction to the end of a long day. It is cute and quirky. The tension between the teen characters feels predictable. All-in-all Enola undergoes a journey to unravel multiple mysteries with the poise that can only be possessed by a Holmes.
There are some timely elements to the film that young viewers may relate to seeing. The film includes hints of London’s political unrest at the time. Enola even picks up a newspaper clipping citing “unrest” and “protests” over a pending reform bill. Enola feels trapped by the societal sexist pressures of the times. The current resentment and desire for social change the target audience feels is validated in Enola Holmes, even repeating the phrase “every vote counts” throughout the film concerning a reform bill. The final line being such a poignant, “the future is up to us”.
Some controversy has arisen from this film. The estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has moved forward in a lawsuit over Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the film. The estate claims that Netflix has infringed upon their copyright of the character by giving him a more emotional and reserved demeanor, saying that the kindness and warmth he processes for his younger sister is not within the correct confines of the character. Cavill’s Holmes is kind, caring, nostalgic, and even promotes Enola’s feminist ideas. The lawsuit is ongoing.
Netflix’s Enola Holmes is sure to entertain as well as inspire tweens not to shy away from controversy. It has definitely been a success for Netflix in its first week available on the streaming platform, achieving a spot in the top ten films on the service within days of release.