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An honest Enola Holmes review

Enola Holmes is a straight to Netflix film that released on September 23, 2020. The movie is adapted from a series of books, The Enola Holmes Mysteries, written by Nancy Springer. The film and book series center around the 16 year old sister of Sherlock Holmes, Enola Holmes. Two books in the series, The Case of the Missing Marquess (the book this film is based on) and The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline were nominated for the Edgar Awards for Best Juvenile Mystery. Millie Bobby Brown plays the title character while Henry Cavill plays the role of Sherlock. Helena Bonham Carter plays Eudoria Holmes while Sam Claflin rounds the cast off as Mycroft Holmes. 

The plot of Enola Holmes revolves around Enola trying to find her mother while also helping the Marquess of Tewkesbury survive an assassination attempt. Complicating matters is the fact that Mycroft wants Enola to attend a finishing school and become a proper lady as Enola is legally his ward and his responsibility. Sherlock, seeing Enola as a bit of a mystery, wants nothing more than to figure her out. There are very few twists and turns in this movie and most people will see the clues pointing toward the villain long before Enola or Sherlock do so.

Now the marketing for this film is very Feminist and "girls rule, boys drool" but the movie has very little ham fisted social commentary. In fact, the 2 examples of "pushing a Feminist" that I noticed in the movie will probably go past 99% of the audience. Rabid Feminist might actually be a bit upset by this movie because the men are far from useless, Enola takes a shotgun butt to the face, and the villain is far from the typical "man bad" you see from politically driven propaganda. 

The acting in the movie is quite good and both Henry and Millie elevate the film with their performances. The supporting characters do a great job and I wish Inspector Lestrade and Eudoria Holmes had more screen time as their actors did fantastic jobs. The only complaint acting wise I can think of is Tewkesbury, as he is a bit too chipper considering the situation he finds himself in.

Enola Holmes is a young adult movie that doesn't try to be anything it isn't. There are no adult jokes hidden under innuendos. The plot doesn't try to be some world ending convoluted mess you need three degrees and a doctorate to understand. The characters, while not very complex, are not one dimensional and there is some sense of growth from everyone in the movie, except for Mycroft. He's a dick from start to finish. If you have 2 hours free, there are worse things you can do then check this film out. If you are anything like me and my kid, you will be cracking jokes and laughing at the many unintentionally meme-able moments. That said, if you wish to not have the movie spoiled then you should click away here. Major spoilers after the picture of Enola below.

Enola Holmes is an interesting movie because on the surface, which is where many YouTube commentators stop, it is a hyper Feminist film. Enola Holmes is not an original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character but is a 2006 creation of author Nancy Springer. Enola is as smart as Sherlock, she's free spirited, and she is very much a "strong independent woman who don't need no man." However, Enola is also teenage girl who is emotional, scared, unsure, and makes goo goo eyes at the pretty boy she's helping. What I'm saying is Enola is a well rounded character who isn't exactly the Mary Sue that online pundits claim she is. Hell, she doesn't actually find her mother but her mother just shows up at the end to explain herself before setting off once more.

The twist, that the Marquess of Tewkesbury's grandmother is the villain, is done well but most will see it coming from a mile away. Finding out that Grandmother orchestrated the assassination attempt on Tewkesbury and killed Tewkesbury's father in order to keep women from gaining the right to vote will irk Feminist quite a bit. Especially when there is no lecture on internalized misogyny. Those who consider themselves anti-SJW might be a bit off put by Mycroft's dickish behavior toward Enola, as it could be viewed as a typical "bad non-progressive man."

I was impressed how the film was able to show Enola and Sherlock coming to the same conclusions but from different angles, as it highlighted both their intellects while not putting either one down. In fact, you could make an argument that the movie portrays Sherlock as being a bit smarter as Enola doesn't actually solve the case, while Sherlock does. Enola is also very naïve to human interactions and doesn't know much about the world outside of her childhood home.

The only part of the movie I had issue with was the portrayal of Mycroft Holmes. Nothing about the character resembles anything Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote in his books. Not his looks, not his intelligence, not his behavior. This was Mycroft Holmes in name only. Now, the story they wanted to tell needed someone to be a stern dickhead and unfortunately Nancy Springer chose to cast Mycroft in that role instead of inventing another new character. 

Sherlock, as I mentioned, is portrayed as brilliant and very detached emotionally from his family. Over the course of the film he begins to grow closer to Enola, through their shared abilities of deduction, and he ends the movie by taking Enola on as his ward. Well, he says he wants to take her on as his ward but Enola is set on making her own path in life and so she doesn't go with her brother at the film's conclusion. Its debatable if Enola actually heard Sherlock tell this to Mycroft or not.


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