Based on the Young Adult novel series by Nancy Springer, Enola Holmes focuses on Sherlock’s younger sister stirring up trouble and testing her own hand at solving mysteries. Despite the bizarre controversry surrounding it, anticipation for this new female-led mystery film was high. However, it sadly does not live up to its potential. Enola Holmes is the definition of boredom, so much so that I’ll inevitably forget all about it after this review.
The film follows Enola Holmes (Millie Bobbie Brown), who has been raised single-handedly by her mother (Helena Bonham-Carter), following the death of her father and departure of her famous older brothers – Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes. However, one day, Enola awakens to find her mother gone, the only trace of her being a box of codes. While her brother desperately wants to send her off to finishing school to make her ‘acceptable for society,’ Enola is on a mission to find her mother and solve the mystery.
However, despite the potential of the plot, the mystery isn’t quite as interesting or gripping as the synopsis makes it out to be. Predictable and uninteresting, the film has more family quarrel and unnecessary romance between Enola and Tewkesbury (whose name I only caught on to in the last 10 minutes as he was *spoiler alert* nearly dying) than it does a proper, gripping mystery. Detective movies have action and adventure, Enola Holmes, however, has an unemotional romance with cliched lines, a distinct lack of twists and a boring ending. Nothing like the other Sherlock movies, this new addition to the universe is the blandest version yet. Honestly, the runtime could have been about 30 minutes shorter or… 2 hours shorter.
As for Millie Bobbie Brown’s performance, she was simply awful as Enola. I want to blame it primarily on the writing which didn’t help her at all but while she was onscreen, I couldn’t help but want to turn the movie off. If it wasn’t for Henry Cavil, I think I might have actually DNF’d this film, which is an issue when Brown is the lead. Equally, the constant Fleabag-inspired 4th-wall breaking was extremely annoying and tiresome. If not used in a comedic format, 4th-wall breaking can easily become cringe-worthy. This is the case for Enola Holmes, becoming another facet of the film that I disliked.
Written by Jack Thorne and directed by Harry Bradbeer, the film was also filled with shallow, problematic proclamations of female empowerment. If this is a film that is meant to teach feminism to young girls, why is the protagonist stripped of any personality whilst being forced to dress and behave like “proper” women? So much so that it is her clothing that saves her in one particular fight, not Enola herself. I prefer my feminism without predictable love stories where the boy saves the girl, I don’t know about you.
Then there are the side characters. For the minimal time that Helena Bonham Carter is on the screen, she adds nothing exciting to the motherly character. The same goes for Sam Claflin who plays the boring brother, Mycroft Holmes (they definitely did him dirty with that tache). The only redeeming character in this movie is Henry Cavill who stole the show and became part of the film’s best sequences with his version of Sherlock Holmes. Looking absolutely dashing in his costume, he shows genuine care for his sister, adding at least some dimension and personality to his character that the others lack.
In addition to Cavil’s performance, the cinematography and the costume design were brilliant. This is an extremely aesthetically-pleasing film that is lovely to look at if you ignore the other issues. The set design of the houses and the countryside had me in awe, with a special appreciation for the treehouse. Adolescent me would die for a treehouse like that. However, while I can appreciate the cinematography, it’s not enough to make this a good film.
Overall, I was incredibly disappointed with this new ‘mystery’. Enola Holmes is just another tiring and forgettable film with problematic issues, a predictable and embarrassing plotline and performances that are not worth the watch. Sadly, I will not be revisiting this movie.
Enola Holmes is available to watch here.
Words by Lucy Lillystone