“Enola Holmes”: a whimsical return to Baker Street

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Photo courtesy of Netflix Studios

The world is just a tad too serious right now. Everywhere we look, there seem to be countless calamities crashing down or momentous movements demanding our immediate attention. 

The world of 2020 had seemed to be one with no wonder, a world with no fun or flights of fancy. The world of 2020 had seemed to be deprived of its joy and life. That is, the world of 2020 had seemed to be this way until I watched “Enola Holmes.” 

“Enola Holmes,” released on Netflix, stars Millie Bobby Brown (of “Stranger Things” fame) as the titular Enola Holmes, the previously unsung little sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. After her brothers depart from their home in the English countryside to make their mark on English society, Enola is left alone with her mother, Eudoria Holmes (Helena Bonham Carter). 

Eudoria adores Enola and teaches her everything she can. From science, physics and history to jiu-jitsu, Eudoria encourages Enola to be an independent thinker, unmarred by the rigid gender roles of the turn-of-the-century English society. 

One day, however, Enola wakes up to discover that her mother is missing, and the only clue of her mother’s whereabouts are cryptic messages hidden in a few gifts. 

Upon hearing of their mother’s disappearance, Mycroft (Sam Clafin) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill) return home to assess the situation and reunite with the sister they have not seen for nearly a decade. 

The sixteen-year-old Enola attempts to get her adult brothers to help her search for their mother. Mycroft, the oldest, is more concerned with the family’s image and his own political ambitions, so he seeks not to be burdened by his younger sister. Despite Sherlock and Enola’s protestations, Mycroft decides that Enola must be sent to a finishing school where she will lose her independence streak and become a proper English woman. 

Enola, who would seemingly rather die than be forced to wear a corset on a daily basis, runs away from home to search for her mother on her own. On her way to London, Enola runs into another runaway child, the young Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge). 

Enola and the somewhat-ridiculous Tewkesbury become companions until they come to London, where Enola discovers a terrible plot against the child noble she befriended. Though it means placing her search for her mother on hold, Enola determines that she must protect the fumbling Tewkesbury from those who would harm him to usurp his place in the English House of Lords. 

“Enola Holmes” is, in a couple of words, a refreshing delight of a film. 

This film captures the whimsical fun of movies such as “Christopher Robin” in combination with the intrigue of the best of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s adventures of “Sherlock Holmes.”

Key to this film’s success in both of these areas is an enchanting and quirky performance from Brown. Though the world already knew that she was one of the best young actresses in the business from her amazing work in “Stranger Things,” Brown turns in a fantastic performance of an altogether different nature in “Enola Holmes.” 

From her fanciful character tics to her charming fourth-wall breaks, Brown makes this film her own. 

Cavill is similarly a delight as Sherlock Holmes. Though most know him as Superman, Cavill gives his own interpretation of the gentleman detective that is surprisingly layered and fun to watch. 

Though director Harry Bradbeer is a relatively unknown name in America, watchers of “Enola Holmes” will certainly appreciate his fluid and confident direction. Bradbeer’s choices reflect and reinforce the whimsical nature of the story written by Nancy Springer. 

In a time where everyone seems to be taking the world a bit too seriously and an ever-increasing stack of problems constantly demand our attention and anxiety, Springer, Bradbeer, Brown, Cavill and all others who worked on this film provide us with a much-needed reminder. 

Life is not just the gloom, anxiety and seriousness that we are currently experiencing. In fact, as long as we allow ourselves to turn the pages and move on, there is bound to be a delightful adventure waiting for us in the next chapter of our lives.

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