Sherlock Holmes is one of the most popular fictional private detective in the literary universe, perhaps even more than the beloved Hercule Poirot who cracks murder cases in Agatha Christie’s mysteries. While Sir Arthur Conan Doyle penned the British genius in the 1880s, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat made Holmes capture the imagination of the millennial generation through their 21st century ‘Sherlock’ played by Benedict Cumberbatch. It even led to a Japanese Manga adaptation.
I mentioned all of that to establish just how lucrative the Sherlock Holmes world is. So why did it take so long for a movie to come out on Enola Holmes? The fictional sister of Sherlock Holmes was created by writer Nancy Springer way back in 2006. While I don’t know the answer to that, I do know that the movie is a little dated for its feminist spin, and even worse – predictable.
Directed by Harry Bradbeer, “Enola Holmes” is set in the Victorian era and starts off with an adorable mother-daughter montage. The images are of an unconventional childhood for a girl – involving reading, playing games and learning combat, in an era where women were expected marry and become domestic accessories.
Things change when one day Enola’s mother disappears, making the 16-year-old the ward of her eldest brother Mycroft, who wants her to go to a finishing school and become a ‘proper lady’. But Enola aspires to be more like her detective brother Sherlock and runs away from home to crack the case of her missing mother. She is side-tracked from her mission when she meets a young viscount who is also on the run.
Actor Millie Bobby Brown is quite likable as the intelligent, free-spirited Enola and Helena Bonham Carter is just the perfect pick to be the mother of the three uncanny Holmes’ siblings. It’s the cast that makes the movie more fun that it should be, for starters – they are all good looking, so it’s easy to like them. I mean Superman (Henry Cavill) plays Sherlock Homes and does a pretty neat job. Louis Partridge who plays Viscount Lord Tewksbury makes a prettier boy than Millie when she is disguised as a boy in the film. Partidge’s character has an innocent allure to him. And despite his villain-ish beard, Sam Claflin makes for a handsome Mykroft.
The other thing that works in favor of the film is the setting. The makers bring out the Victorian era London quite vividly, however, the it’s the lush countryside and the brief lavish appearances of the Viscount’s estate that make for delightful viewing. Enola gets a lot of action sequences and it was both empowering and comical to see her fight the bad guy in a stifling gown. Two birds killed in one shot – you get both action and comic relief.
What doesn’t work for the film is the formulaic predictability of it all; and the very text-book, almost stale feminist lines sprinkled through the plot. Also, the protagonist keeps breaking the fourth wall, which becomes quite an unnecessary distraction towards the second-half. There are also some emotional sappy scenes that weren’t needed and dragged the pace down.
Except for a very little twist in the end, ‘Enola Holmes’ is a very basic level mystery movie, with no impressive wit to it. It’s based on a book meant for children, but since the makers made the movie Enola older, they should have perhaps made some other changes to the original story to make it more compelling and clever. But since the characters are charming and the setting pleasant, it makes for a fun watch. It’s a 6/10 for me.