Millie Bobby Brown steals show in ‘Enola Holmes’

Marlee McAbee, Volunteer Writer

In September, Netflix released the film “Enola Holmes” based on the book series by Nancy Springer. Its cast includes Millie Bobby Brown in the titular role, Henry Cavill as Sherlock Holmes and Helena Bonham Carter as their mother, Eudoria Holmes. The movie’s lovable characters and compelling story has secured it overall positive reviews from critics.

The cast is very well chosen. Brown’s portrayal of Enola captures the character’s intelligence while still coming off as kindhearted and caring, which is essential to her characterization. Often in books and film, intelligent people are portrayed as cold and unfeeling. Brown avoids this pitfall, with her character being both brilliant and sweet, without letting either of these traits draw away from the other.

The surprise role to some people was Henry Cavill, known for his role in “Justice League” as Superman and “The Witcher” as Geralt of Rivia, as the famed detective Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is traditionally played by actors that seem more frail than Cavill, so the action star being chosen for the role was unexpected. He is very believable in the role, however, especially since the Sherlock seen in “Enola Holmes” is far friendlier than he is often written in adaptations. 

This fact brought Netflix under fire from the Arthur Conan Doyle estate earlier this year, however. The estate sued Netflix for their portrayal of Doyle’s famed detective for his showing emotion and kindness towards his younger sister. The legal details of this case are fairly confusing and bring in copyright laws and creative expression, which are difficult concepts for a layman to understand. The case seems to not have been settled yet.

Sherlock Holmes has had a tight hold on the public consciousness since his first appearance in “The Strand” magazine in 1887. For this reason, I believe that this take on him can be seen as a welcomed change from the normal snobbish genius that audiences see, and Cavill was definitely the actor for the job.

One interesting aspect of the movie is how Enola regularly breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience directly. These humorous insights to her thoughts help the audience follow the story and understand her motivations. 

My favorite thing about the film is that Enola is a strong female character that is allowed to cry and be silly and otherwise be a sixteen-year-old girl. Oftentimes in media, if a female character is “strong,” it means she is unfeeling and unemotional. That is not the case with Brown’s Enola. She shows highs and lows of emotion one would expect from a teenage girl, without the movie making her seem any less for it. 

Another great thing about the characterizations is the fact that gender roles are twisted with the two main characters, without simply switching them. Louis Partridge plays Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilweather, who is Enola’s love interest. The main plot of the film is Enola having to save him from the man trying to kill him. Instead of simply casting him as the useless damsel in distress, he does still help Enola. Tewkesbury is interested in plants and helps Enola the first day they meet by finding edible plants for them to eat. Something else that shifts gender norms is that when Enola finds Tewkesbury later in the film he is working at a flower shop. He is allowed to enjoy this job that could be considered feminine without it being looked down upon. 

Perhaps the most important part of the movie is that it focuses on Enola figuring out who she is for herself. At the beginning of the film, she is trying to be like her mother. As time passes, however, she learns that she has to make her own way and decide what is important to her. Not only does the movie have multiple strong female characters, but they are each different with different values, which is not often seen in movies or television. 

The mystery of the film is not easy to figure out, either. The clues are all there for the audience to work out who the villain is, but there are also a number of red herrings to throw off any theories until the very end. Instead of quickly figuring out the question of “whodunnit,” audiences have to wait until the end of the movie for all the pieces to fall in place.

It is unclear as of yet whether or not there will be a sequel. The outlook is positive, though, with director Harry Bradbeer saying that discussion on the subject is taking place. 

“Enola Holmes” is already a hit with audiences and critics alike. Its lovable characters and entertaining plot make it easy to recommend. With its combination of action, humor, heartfelt moments and inventive graphics, any audience will likely find something they enjoy in the movie.