Enola Holmes, the sister of Sherlock Holmes, makes a timely cinema debut in a year that sorely needs a break from spin-a-wheel of disasters.
Millie Bobbie Brown carries this movie with ease as the titular character. Enola is raised by a feminist mother, who raised her to be an independent girl rather than groom her to be a typical Victorian housewife.
The movie is able to carve a believable space for her to inhabit even though Enola isn’t canon. She is as intelligent as Sherlock Holmes but doesn’t magically solve the mystery of this film.
The mystery in this film is convoluted – first a quest to find her mother until it becomes a mission to save a young Lord. As the movie progresses, however, it is part of Enola’s character arc. This movie is about making your own choices.
And this is where the movie excels. It’s a brisk action-adventure about a young plucky detective on her first case, played by a young talented actress.
Enola goes around London, deciphers anagrams, makes a few disguises, constantly brakes the fourth wall, and realizes that being alone doesn’t mean having to be lonely. The rest of the cast is a perfect fit – Henry Cavill is allowed to be dashing again – and we’ll surely see more of them in the following sequel.
The script commits to its theme about female agency without falling into the common pitfalls of Hollywoodized feminism. There is no forced romance. Viscount Tewkesbury isn’t entirely incompetent to prop her up. There is no vacuous blonde competition to show that she’s not like other girls.
The script allows Enola to change her mind and decide what path to take in the Sherlock world unconstrained.
This also means that Enola Holmes doesn’t dare try anything different or complex. London looks like a Universal Studio replica filled with extras. The plot marches to the beat of a predictable crowd-pleaser. It’s amazing how a teenager who has never step foot in a city navigate it as if she’s been there.
Still, Enola Holmes delivers what it promises – an entertaining introduction to an earnest girl-powered franchise.
Perhaps in the later installments, Enola Holmes can tackle a social commentary brewing underneath – in order to change the world you need to sacrifice your love to fight for what you love and make radical decisions to make yourself heard.
For now, Enola Holmes is establishing her own corner at Baker Street.
Enola Holmes is a charming start to a girl-powered franchise, thanks to a lively plot and captivating performance by Millie Bobby Brown.