Sometimes sisters have to do it for themselves…
With the wild west landscape of VOD and streaming slowly taking over our lives from an entertainment standpoint it’s hard to keep track of the usual release patterns that we’re all used to it. Launching this Wednesday on Netflix; Enola Holmes is a darn good female driven adventure that the whole family can enjoy and could easily squeeze a couple of sequels out of thanks to a very strong base of material to work with.
It’s England, 1884; and the world is on the brink of change. On the morning of her 16th birthday, Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) wakes to find that her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) has disappeared, leaving behind an odd assortment of gifts but no apparent clue as to where she’s gone or why. After a free-spirited childhood, Enola suddenly finds herself under the care of her brothers Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin), both set on sending her away to a finishing school for “proper” young ladies. Refusing to follow their wishes, Enola escapes to search for her mother in London. But when her journey finds her entangled in a mystery surrounding a young runaway Lord (Louis Partridge), Enola becomes a super-sleuth in her own right, outwitting her famous brother as she unravels a conspiracy that threatens to set back the course of history. Based on the beloved book series by Nancy Springer, Enola Holmes is a dynamic new mystery-adventure that introduces the world’s greatest detective to his fiercest competition yet: his teenage sister. The game is afoot.
It’s revisionist popcorn entertainment, but it works. Enola Holmes is a sly winking nod to the original spirit of Arthur Conan Doyle with a genuine sense of female empowerment sprinkled in. It also might be Netflix’s real chance at their very own high profile movie franchise because they’ll be able to get a few out of this material.
With TV veteran Harry Bradbeer taking the helm of the film it couldn’t be in sturdier hands. It looks great from top to bottom and even at a running time of over two hours it had a genuine flow and entertainment value to it all. Stellar production design and a sly script from screenwriter Jack Thorne (adapted from the books by Nancy Springer) give it all a real sense of adventure. The film channels the successful elements of the Guy Ritchie “Sherlock” entries allowing it to have a very earned but necessary sense of self aware silliness.
Sure the message of female empowerment gets to be a little on the nose at times, it pushes out the boundaries that you’d expect in this universe to give us something that manages to be necessarily broad in content but sharp exactly where it all needs to be. It’s effortless carried by a next level star making performance.
Obviously Millie Bobby Brown is a star given her work on the Netflix classic Stranger Things but this film really gives her the room to stretch her very talented wings and carry a feature that could have opened to 3000 screens in the before COVID times but will easily draw in audience on the home page of their Netflix browsers.
To put it simply she’s a star, it’s not something you can teach, rather it’s up to actor’s to find on their own. She easily carries the frame from start to finish reminding us that her Enola is not only a sassy smart mouthed heroine whose adventures we can’t get enough but also a young woman trying to find her way in the world…no matter how high her intellect is.
Louis Partridge opposite her as the male foil and “boy in distress” in a sly reversal of gender roles is fine and while the supporting players of Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin & Helena Bonham Carter certainly give them film a degree of weight and credence to the proceedings, they are here as foils to our star. This is Millie Bobby Brown’s world and the rest of these actors are not only playing in it but supporting her to heights that we have yet to imagine.
Enola Holmes is hardly perfect, it’s a little on the nose, occasionally silly and a little over long, but it’s also one hell of an entertaining romp and it just might be the movie we need right now.