Enola Holmes is the new Netflix movie starring Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes, sister of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes, as she embarks on her first adventure to find their missing mother and to find her own place in a changing world.
Millie Bobby Brown shines as Enola Holmes, as she embodies her innocence, confidence, and vulnerability. The movie mixes genres like teen adventure films, coming of age, mystery, and romance. It does not have to stand on the shoulders of being a Holmes movie, and creates a heroine who is as brilliant as her brother Sherlock and more open and compassionate towards others, unlike her brothers.
Enola Homes does not try to hide Enola’s feminine quality or her teenage sensibilities, but plays with it, and makes a charming experience. The movie gives a different rendering of Sherlock and Mycroft (played by Henry Cavill and Sam Claflin, respectively) in their early years, and a presence and identity to their mother Eudoria Holmes played brilliantly by Helena Bonham-Carter.
Enola Holmes though is the sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes in the movie, she is non-existent in the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but she is not the first Holmes sister to appear on the screen. The first appearance being the more recluse, psychotic Eurus Holmes created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for BBC’s Sherlock, and the second being Enola adapted from Nancy Springer’s The Enola Holmes Mystery Series. The two share resemblance in the sense that both their names start with an ‘E’ and youngest among the siblings, but if analyzed it can also be seen that both of them serve the purpose of making Sherlock more compassionate and emotionally involved. Though in Sherlock it was more in the area of confronting his repressed feelings and recovering their relationship, in Enola Holmes, it begins with his emotional bonding with Enola that initiates his growth that later leads to sharing the responsibility of being a brother with Mycroft.
The movie apart from being an adventure film gives time and character arch to the Holmes family members. First, for Enola, to decide for her, if she wants to lead a life she wants or a life other wants out of her. For Sherlock to take a step forward from just being a popular brilliant detective to a person who cares about others, that be his family or the world he lives in, that is changing. It is not clear as to Mycroft’s character arch or Eudoria’s motivation in taking that route, but one can speculate that with Mycroft who being the eldest had to fill the shoes of the father figure and earner, maybe in the end is presented with a choice to choose to be a man of old London or the changing London. For Eudoria to realise that maybe the path she took to ensure her daughter’s future may not be the right one, and may leave more scars than she intended to by leaving her.
The movie also employs the use of the fourth wall break narrative, a narrative technique in which the narrator or characters in the film and television directly addresses the audience. The narrative technique was first used in the theatre for comedic and dramatic effect, by breaking the imaginary fourth wall that divides fiction and reality or the actors and the audience, and now is seen everywhere in films and television like Funny Games (2007), Deadpool(2016), Modern Family(2009-2020), Fleabag(2016-2019), A Series of Unfortunate Events(2017-2019), House of Cards (2013-2018) and many more. In Enola Holmes, the fourth wall break is employed to let the audience into the mind and feelings of Enola, which becomes transparent as the audience becomes her closest friend. Her feelings and doubts are laid bare for the audience to see and sympathize with her in her most vulnerable state of being alone, without friends or family. Enola’s chemistry with Tewkesbury also benefits from it, as the fourth wall break allows her to wink at the audience, in moments she is smitten and annoyed. The addressing of the audience can also be read as Enola’s way of coping with the grief of her mother leaving her, her only friend, and the audience becoming a stand-in for her.
In the end, Enola Holmes shines because it stays true to the characters and their motivations, even though it may be flawed it delivers its intended message. The director Harry Bradbeer and screenplay writer Jack Thorne blend together the old and the new and presents a story with a modern perspective that fits well with the old period as well as the present. By taking different approaches to the well-known characters, some planned out, some not, presents a refreshing take on old characters, and introduces new ones in a contained film. If it is going to be a franchise of films, it is up to the makers, but at least as a solo film, it finds its soul, as it captures Enola’s journey of becoming a detective, a finder of lost souls.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.