‘Enola Holmes’ review: She’s beyond elementary, and not your dear
By Lovia Gyarkye
The year is 1884 and Enola Holmes is on a mission — to find her mother, escape her brothers and live life on her own terms. It’s a tall order for the teenage sister of Sherlock Holmes, whose age and gender make her battle an uphill one. But her will won’t be broken, and in the Netflix film “Enola Holmes,” directed by Harry Bradbeer, our title character proves this to anyone in doubt.
After Enola (Millie Bobby Brown of “Stranger Things”) discovers on the morning of her 16th birthday that her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) has disappeared, she reluctantly finds herself under the care of her brothers Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill). Mycroft wants to send Enola to finishing school, but Enola, who has been raised by her mother to be independent, refuses to have her identity defined by domesticity.
Motivated by a set of clues left by her mother, Enola escapes to London. On her way to the city, she crosses paths with Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), a young lord also on the run from a suffocating fate. The pair form a predictable (but no less tender) bond.
While Enola looks for her mother and tackles other mysteries in the process, England is on the cusp of change, with an expansion of voting rights being decided in the House of Lords.
“Enola Holmes” converges around the stakes of democracy, including the work of suffragists fighting for widespread representation. The film is successful in balancing these broad themes with our heroine’s adventures, and that is due in large part to the work of Brown, whose energetic performance breathes new life into the Holmes creative world.
On the surface, “Enola Holmes” is about a young woman in search of herself, but the film’s value comes from a deeper investigation of power, familial bonds and the risks of changing a world determined to stay the same.