Enola Holmes

⭐⭐½ based on 1 review.

tl;dr: An enjoyable but fairly weak attempt at expanding the mythology of the Holmes family, with a solid cast and some clear potential let done by a lacklustre plot and faltering attempts at a moral core.


Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

I definitely thought this was a TV show based on the trailer, so was slightly surprised to find that it wrapped itself up in a single two-hour outing. I also think that may have been a mistake, as a more episodic nature to the storytelling could have helped it find its feet a bit more. Still, I found Enola Holmes to be an enjoyable outing, even if the result was just a slightly lacklustre action film with no real mystery in sight.

Millie Bobby Brown was great in the title role, though the fourth-wall-breaking didn't really add anything to the overall plot and I think could have been done a lot better. Sam Claflin played a surprisingly stupid Mycroft, but did so well, whilst I generally enjoyed Henry Cavill's Sherlock (and was glad to see that, despite both the famous character and actor being combined, he didn't become an oversized subplot or irritatingly frequent cameo; he served a role to the plot and nothing more). The rest of the cast were perfectly fine within their roles, but I wouldn't say any of the other characters truly jumped out.

As for the plot, the initial premise of Mrs Holmes (Eudoria) suddenly disappearing and her youngest daughter deciding to run away to find her was a solid enough setup, but unfortunately became a little bogged down in all of the heavy-handed messages it was trying to shout about. We've got common vote reform, suffragettes, and feminism, plus a whole side plot about a young Lord with a murderous bigot of a grandmother and her pet assassin (a fun enough turn for Burn Gorman, though far from a standout character role) that irritatingly turns into a romance. After all, why have a film making a whole point about how women should decide their own fate without ultimately making it a choice over becoming a wife or not... it's not like there are thousands of other options (or that this hasn't been done before).

Set against all that, we never really get much in the way of mystery or detective work. Enola gets enough story to prove that she's certainly intelligent (albeit a bit immature and sheltered) but is still rarely more than a half step ahead of the audience and is never granted a proper Sherlock-style piece of brilliant reasoning. Instead, the focus is on her emotional trauma and unexpected romantic interests, her empathy, and her desire to remain an innocent child. It's not exactly the kind of progressive, kick-ass heroine I'd been hoping for.

On the other hand, nor is she a complete wet blanket, nor merely a lucky fool. She is given agency over her actions and the film does at least try to make a solid point about the need for individual's to fight for autonomy and their own personal rights, particularly against inequality. It just stops short of properly addressing privilege (despite calling it out) and actively baulks against the notion of civil disobedience as a strategy to progress societal norms towards genuine equality, despite the actual historic reality that those exact tactics were necessary, which just feels a little odd and almost like an attempt at subverting progressive ideals.

Still, the film does a decent enough job of setting up her character and her situation to make me happy to watch a sequel. I just hope next time around Enola is allowed to be a detective, rather than simply a lens through which to view women's disempowerment.

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