Movie Review | Enola Holmes
It apparently runs in the family...
Movie summary: When Enola Holmes-Sherlock's teen sister-discovers her mother missing, she sets off to find her, becoming a super-sleuth in her own right as she outwits her famous brother and unravels a dangerous conspiracy around a mysterious young Lord. (IMDb)
Before I watched Enola Holmes, everything I'd seen made me think that it was going to be a perfectly serviceable, family friendly movie adding a heavy dosage of feminism to the world of Sherlock Holmes and, as it turns out, that's exactly what it is. Then again, you didn't need to be the world's greatest detective (sit down Batman) to figure that out.
I just want to point out that none of those things are actually bad, but neither are they great. I'll get to what I mean regarding the feminism in a bit, because that obviously requires a bit more explanation, but the rest of the film is what I'd say is 'good enough' - meaning I'd watch a sequel if one gets made, but I'll be in no rush to see it.
I know Enola Holmes is based on a book in a series centred around the same character, but it does make me wonder why the series and the character exist in the first place. While Enola is a fun character and Millie Bobby Brown is great to watch in the role, there's nothing 'Holmesian' about her.
If you want to make a story based on a young female detective in Victorian London, then go ahead and make that story, but why tie it to Sherlock Holmes when the two characters couldn't be more different? And I'm saying this while generally like Henry Cavill as Sherlock here, even if Enola herself points out how unlike himself he behaves at times here.
It's not really a knock on the movie, but just something I found myself wondering more and more as the story unfolded and never coming close to feeling like a Sherlock Holmes story. To be fair, it would be difficult to come too close thanks to events revolving around a young woman rather than a grown man.
And this where we come to the point of Enola Holmes' feminism, which I'll start off by saying that I have no problem being in the movie, especially considering how much the feminist movement was beginning to gain public prominence at the time - it makes sense to feature it, but it's more the implementation that's lacking.
The biggest 'problem' is that, thanks to the movie being centred so heavily around a single female character and potentially setting up a new franchise for her, it does make the other women come off as little more than extras or set dressing when some of them were trying to do so much more than Enola to advance the cause of women, yet she makes their efforts feel almost redundant.
Hell, the set-up for her story is that her mother goes missing, ostensibly to engage in some strong feminist enterprise that... never happens - mainly thanks to Enola's own escapades. It's weird to have a female character espousing the tenets of feminism so much who undercuts so many other women in the same story.
Although that over-explanation - usually in the form of Enola breaking the fourth wall to talk to the audience - carries over to almost every area of the movie. Let's just say that you'll never be unsure of what Enola is thinking at any point because she'll just turn to the camera and spell it out for you. "Show, don't tell" is the phrase, not "show and tell".
It got so bad that I was half-hoping/expecting one of the other characters to ask her who she was talking to, or to surprise her by joining in and breaking the fourth wall too. I think going for narration would've been the better choice, because the film has to pretty much stop for Brown to deliver the lines explaining what is already pretty bloody clear and a voice-over wouldn't require the same, allowing the action to continue.
But I don't want to sound too harsh, as I still enjoyed Enola Holmes, I loved Brown in the title role, and I really want to see more of her and Cavill's Sherlock together - just cut down on the fourth-wall breaks, provide some stronger female supporting characters, and - most importantly - trust the audience more.
Enola Holmes is enjoyable enough and should entertain younger viewers, but doesn't seem to trust its audience enough to be truly satisfying. The 'puzzles' are mostly just anagrams and the movie isn't shy about showing and telling, just to make sure you get what's going on. I'd watch a sequel, as Millie Bobby Brown is great in the role, just don't make her spell out absolutely everything next time.