Enola Holmes, Netflix’s latest spin on a Sherlock Holmes tale, is a fun, heartfelt ride all the way through.
While still an important part in the story, Sherlock, played by Henry Cavill, is not main the focus. Millie Bobby Brown, most famous for her performance of Eleven in Stranger Things, plays the titular role: Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes’ teen-sister, Enola.
The Victorian-era mystery kicks off when Enola’s mother (Helena Bonham Carter) goes missing overnight, leaving behind a careful trail of clues only Enola could follow. Rather than following the commands of her older brother Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and attending finishing school, Enola runs away to find her mother in London. On the journey, through tragic happenstance, she meets the charming young lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge). The two form an immediate and endearing bond.
The insighting storyline of finding the mother soon plays second fiddle as the mystery surrounding Tewkesbury and the menacing murderer — played by the always intimidating Burn Gorman — that’s out for his head.
The earnestness and childlike joy that Brown brings to the character is infectious, and the enate charisma she brings to every single one of her roles is present in every minute of Enola Holmes.
Many times throughout the film, Enola looks into the camera and speaks directly to the audience. This is a convention that often poorly used, but Brown’s sincerity shines through and the fourth wall breaks work within the world that director Harry Bradbeer has crafted.
Cavill’s Sherlock Holmes is a subdued take on the character that has more in common with the gentle giant archetype than the hyperactive manic-genius seen in Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayals. Cavill’s commanding presence and loveable charm draws enough attention without resorting to the boastful one-upmanship present in other depictions of the character.
A standout performance in the film is from one of the least known names in the entire cast. Louis Partridge, playing the role of Tewkesbury, has an incredible amount of chemistry with Brown. Witnessing them become immediately entranced with each other is thoroughly enjoyable to witness.
Enola Holmes is a film that knows exactly what it is, and doesn’t overreach or overstay its welcome. From the very beginning the film establishes itself as a fun coming of age adventure full of young love, intense action and solving mysteries, and that’s precisely what Bradbeer delivers.
The film has its flaws, but it’s clear the creators weren’t seeking to win any academy awards. As the plotline involving the mother and her band of women’s suffragettes unfurls, several of the elements either become thin or are dropped entirely. In most cases this would have been a serious story issue, but somehow Enola Holmes manages to walk across the plotholes unscathed.
There’s something refreshing about a film that isn’t attempting to change the game, but simply be an enjoyable two hours of leisure. Enola Holmes is a perfect example of an easy comfort movie — it’s entertaining and cute without a need for major emotional investment. Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes is both lovely and enticing. With the incredible positive critical reception the film has received, audiences are likely to see more from Enola’s story.