Feminist Sherlock Spin-off is Winning Hearts Online: Here's What Critics Think of Enola Holmes
Enola Holmes is the latest Sherlock Holmes film but this time, Millie Bobby Brown is the star | Image credit: Netflix
Enola is a spunky 16-year-old whose life is turned upside down when her mother suddenly disappears. Not one to lead a life of domesticity under the unfailing eyes of her brothers Sherlock and Mycroft, Enola embarks on a mission to find her mother and in a way - find herself.
- Last Updated: September 24, 2020, 13:02 IST
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A new Sherlock Holmes is in town. But this time, the talk of the block is not Sherlock himself but his rebellious, witty and almost equally genius sister Enola, the 16-year-old protagonist of Netflix's Enola Holmes. And Millie Bobby Brown as the eponymous lead has emerged a winner.
In its latest offering, Netflix along with director David Bradbeer recreated the iconic Sherlock Holmes in what Rotten Tomatoes called a clever mix of Guy Ritchie and Pheobe Waller-Bridge.
Enola is a spunky 16-year-old whose life is turned upside down when her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) suddenly disappears. Not one to lead a life of domesticity under the unfailing eyes of her brothers Sherlock (played delightfully by Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin), Enola embarks on a mission to find her mother and in a way - find herself. In that sense, Enola Holmes is not just a Sherlock film adaptation but also a coming of age film.
While on the onset, it appears to be just another Holmes caper, the film manages to go deeper and, according to New York Times' Lovia Graykye, taps into a "deeper investigation of power, familial bonds and the risks of changing a world determined to stay the same".
Henry Cavill's Sherlock has been receiving a lot of love from fans online as well critics. And while it misses the fidgety energy of Robert Downey Jr's Sherlock or the menacing neuroticism brought to the table by Benedict Cumberbatch, Cavill's performance is clean and convincing. And that, perhaps, works well for the film since this time the star is not Sherlock but his sister.
Millie Bobby Brown, of course, is the star of the show. Brown, who became a critics' and audience favourite after the massive success of Netflix's Stranger Things, has been garnering praise from across quarters. Fresh off her success as the brooding Eleven, Brown gets a chance to slough off her previous role by embracing Enola's 19th-century bonnet and the character with equal conviction. "Enola Holmes makes a fine showcase for Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown, who gets to drop the layers of anxiety and trauma that make that show’s El such a compelling character", Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore writes.
Pop culture is in want of strong, female detectives (the last one that comes to mind was Agatha Christie's Miss Jane Marple) and Enola Holmes manages to build a compelling case in support of the genre. What it fails to do, however, is build a strong and compelling case for the young detective to solve. Bonham remains terribly underused in the film and the case has been described as rather "tepid" by many critics.
While Enola Holmes is a fresh new attempt at a terribly under-explored genre and might possibly be the start of a franchise, the first film manages to entertain but not truly impress. As Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian puts it, "...there should have been more specifically ingenious deducting and solving from Enola – codebreaking isn’t the same thing".