It’s no mystery that Netflix’s Enola Holmes is both a fun and empowering film

This feminist twist on classic Sherlock films sees the famous detective relegated to the back burner in favour of his sister

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Millie Bobby Brown takes on the titular role in this mystery-adventure romp with enthusiastic energy and power. Courtesy of Netflix

By: Marisa Rizzo, SFU Student

It is time to finally meet Enola Holmes, the younger sister of the infamous literary detective Sherlock Holmes. Once you do, it might just have you asking, “Sherlock who?”

Based on the book series The Enola Holmes Mysteries by Nancy Springer, this recent Harry Bradbeer Netflix release tells the story of Enola Holmes, whose mother mysteriously vanishes on her 16th birthday. Using skills learned from her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), such as jiu-jitsu and the ability to decode messages, Enola embarks on a journey from her countryside home to the city of London to find her.  

Stepping into the pivotal role of Enola Holmes is Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown who carries the movie splendidly. Enola defies societal conventions of who a woman can be and what she can do. Brown’s depiction encapsulates so much energy and wittiness in her performance, making Enola relatable and exciting. Thanks to the filmmaking choice of having Enola consistently break the fourth wall and talk with the audience, we get to hear her inner thoughts and become more acquainted with her.

Similarly to Brown, the rest of the cast also gives exceptional performances. Henry Cavill plays the famous Sherlock Holmes and, despite the various versions of Sherlock over the years, makes the character his own. Cavill’s Sherlock is full of wit and oozing with charm. We also get to see Sherlock be the caring older brother — a twist on previous portrayals. Alongside Cavill is Sam Claflin as Mycroft Holmes, another one of Enola’s older siblings. After seeing how his mother has taught Enola, he is appalled and comes to the conclusion that she should go learn etiquette at a finishing school. Claflin portrays Mycroft in a way that makes you love to hate his character for trying to make Enola someone she is not.   

Enola Holmes uniquely weaves feminism into the storyline, discussing how women in the Victorian era are expected to behave and act in a certain way that society has pre-determined for them. We see through characters such as Mycroft that women who are not “lady-like” are viewed as too wild. As a female protagonist who is educated, athletic, perceptive, and taught by other strong women, Enola rebels against those expectations.

The film also doesn’t shy away from touching on other inequalities in its plot. One scene in particular features a discussion between Sherlock and Black jiu-jitsu teacher and tea shop owner Edith, played by Susan Wokoma. Edith points out to Sherlock that he has the privilege to not question the society he is a part of since it works in his favour. I found that to be extremely relevant to what is going on today with the multiple movements for change that we are seeing occur worldwide.  

These powerful messages are woven into the storytelling and set to a backdrop of beautiful, rich settings, and gorgeous costumes. There are both quick shots when anyone is deciphering clues and a good use of flashbacks to Enola’s childhood of time spent with her mother to move the story along.

I highly recommend this film. It is full of action, adventure, humour, and moments of self-discovery, and has me hoping for a sequel.

Enola Holmes is now streaming on Netflix.

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