Julien Neaves – Editor
Greetings folks. It is Republic Day in Trinidad and Tobago (where your hard working editor hails from) and the number one Netflix film in sweet TT is mystery/comedy Enola Holmes. Now what better way to celebrate replacing the Queen as the head of state than watching a movie set in 19th century England? Jolly good.
Enola Holmes stars Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown as the eponymous younger sister of the world’s most famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes (played here by Superman and The Witcher himself Henry Cavill) and the uptight and decidedly less famous Mycroft Holmes (played by Sam Claflin of The Hunger Games and Peaky Blinders). After the disappearance of her mother Eudoria (played by queen of kooky characters and frequent Tim Burton muse Helena Bonham Carter) Enola sets off on a quest to find her and ends up involved in a very deadly mystery. The film is based on the first book in the series of the same name by Nancy Springer.
Wow. That’s a lot of background. Time for the review. With a mild Spoiler Alert let’s unravel this mystery in four slices.
#1 Holmes Sweet Holmes
If there was anyone still doubting the star power of Millie Bobby Brown then this performance should put those to rest. Sure we’ve seen her as lovable/powerful weird as Eleven/Elle in Stranger Things, and we’ve seen her talents wasted in Godzilla: King of Monsters, but here she takes centre stage and kills it. She is unendingly fun, sweet, quirky, witty, quick-witted, winking and daring as the fourth-wall breaking Enola. You can tell she truly enjoyed playing this character (one would assume, I wasn’t there myself during filming) by the amount of life and energy she pours into her. And she gets to speak in her native British accent so that must have been nice too. Anywho, Brown’s stellar performance is truly the selling point of the film and it alone makes it worth watching.
The other characters are not bad but they are clearly there as supporting roles and nothing more. Cavill does a respectable job as Sherlock Holmes and delivers a slightly more caring take on the character than we are used to. But he doesn’t have enough screen time or enough to do to trouble other takes on the iconic detective, so Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr. can sleep easy. Claflin does well in making Mycroft unlikable and Fiona Shaw is your prototypical stern headmistress as Miss Harrison. Louis Partridge has good chemistry with Brown as the dashing Lord Viscount Tewksbury and he will provide some eye candy for the female viewers. And speaking of eye candy, I regret to report to the Henry Cavill Admirers Club that the film does not include a Cavill shirtless scene. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
#2 Jolly Old England
When doing a period piece your film needs to look the part, and Enola Holmes does a good job recreating 19th century England. I’m no historian but the dialogue and locations seem spot on. The standout aspect, however, is the fantastic costuming. The Holmes brothers look quite smart and Enola has a wardrobe full of lovely dresses and clever disguises. And moving away from clothing to casting, I did appreciate seeing some black faces among the characters. And I also appreciated that not all of those faces belonged to lower class workers. That was a welcome touch.
#3 Danger is No Stranger
Going into the film I expected some level of adventure and excitement, and I got slightly more than I expected. And most of the action comes courtesy of the grim killer Linthorn aka Bowler Hat Guy, played by Burn Gorman (Torchwood, Game of Thrones). And he does well as the mysterious cold-blooded assassin. He and Brown have some decent fight scenes though it is nothing to write home to momma about. But the action sequences do help to keep the pacing up and add some adrenaline to the proceedings.
#4 The Game’s Afoot
My final point is on the plot and this is where I will have to take off some points. It’s not a bad plot but it is somewhat predictable. The central issues of women’s rights and roles are explored but just barely. I figured out the mystery pretty quickly and it is not one that would have stumped the actual Sherlock Holmes. And the resolution of the mystery surrounding her mother was a bit unsatisfying, though I feel they may be leaving some stuff for the inevitable sequels.
There are five more books in the series so that is material for at least five more films. And I for one would be on board for those sequels on the strength of Brown’s performance alone. Call it intuition, but I don’t think I’m alone in wanting more Enola Holmes.
Julien’s Score: 7.5 out of 10
So what did you think of Enola Holmes? For my review of Netflix superpower flick Power you can click here. And for more intriguing film reviews you can like and follow Redmangoreviews on Facebook here.
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”.
I can also be found posting on Instagram as redmanwriter and talking about TV and movie stuff on Facebook at Movieville.