This latest take on the character of Sherlock Holmes doesn’t focus on the man himself, but on younger sister, Enola (Millie Bobby Brown). With older brothers, Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin) having left home, and her father deceased, Enola (“alone” spelt backwards) is now being raised single-handedly by her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham-Carter), whose teachings of science, herbology and martial arts have seen Enola become a very strong, independent young woman.
Enola’s world is suddenly turned upside down one morning when she wakes to find her mother gone, leaving behind some cryptic clues for her daughter to decipher. The disappearance sees the return of Sherlock and Mycroft to the family home, but they fail to even recognise their sister upon their arrival at the train station. To make things worse, Mycroft begins making arrangements for Enola to attend finishing school so that she can become more acceptable to society.
But Enola has other plans, making her escape and setting off to London after following the clues left by her mother. Along the way, she gets mixed up in a plot to kidnap young Lord Tewksbury (Louis Partridge), who she befriends on the train, something that utilises both her sharp brain and wits, as well as her combat skills.
Millie Bobby Brown (who also gets a producer credit) effortlessly carries things along, brimming with confidence and enthusiasm. There’s plenty of fourth-wall breaking, as Enola narrates the story or gives us a knowing reaction to something or someone, “Do you have any ideas?” she asks us when things become tricky. Sherlock understandably takes a bit of a back seat here, contemplative and brooding for much of the movie, but despite that, his portrayal by Henry Cavill is one that I’d like to see more of. Even if he did appear to be mumbling for the first half of the movie.
Enola Holmes is a fun family movie, which just about manages to cover up the fact that it never really gets going. Victorian London is beautiful to look at, lavishly recreated with a mix of CGI and actual people and scenery and it’s a playfully fun design, with plenty of animated intertitles. But the story itself just isn’t that interesting, with the hunt for Eudoria regularly being sidelined for the plot involving runaway Lord Tewksbury. Nothing ever feels fully explored, or satisfactorily resolved.
The book that Enola Holmes is based upon – “The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery” by Nancy Springer – is part of a series of YA fiction books, so there is certainly the possibility of more movies to come involving Enola Holmes. With ample opportunity for her to show off her fighting skills, and her amusing ability to regularly outsmart brother Sherlock, Enola Holmes is definitely an interesting character that I’d be interested in seeing more of. If they could just come up with a much tighter, more focused script, then there is potential for a great series of movies there.