Rating : ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Categorisation: Detective mystery
Plot: In 1884 Enola Holmes, sister of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes, is sixteen years old. We learn from the charming cartoon at the beginning of the film that her father died when she was young. Her two older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock, left home to make their own way in life, leaving Enola to be raised alone by her unorthodox mother. Encouraged to be splendidly independent, Enola’s education was equally unorthodox. But then, on Enola’s sixteenth birthday, her mother disappears and she is left completely alone – until her brothers arrive. Then Enola’s life takes a sudden turn to the orthodox when Mycroft decides to send his ward to finishing school in the hope of taming her wild spirit. Sherlock, while sympathetic, is no help at all and Enola realises she must take control of her fate – she runs off to London to find her mother. We then follow her adventures as she uses martial arts and her detective skills to negotiate complex and sometimes dangerous situations. Sherlock pursues her, but is always one step behind. Enola’s journey is set against a backdrop of political change and in particular the hotly debated Reform Bill which is purposefully linked with the suffragette movement in the film, although women’s enfranchisement actually occurred much later in England. But nobody seems to mind the occasional lack of detail as the action romps delightfully along.
Cast: Milly Bobby Brown absolutely radiates fun as Enola. She has a strong presence, and her asides that are made directly to the audience adds much humour to the film. At one stage when she falls off her bike in the mud, she looks directly into the camera and announces that ‘cycling is not one of my core strengths’. It’s a joy to watch. Helena Bonham Carter gives an exceptional performance as Enola’s mum – no politically-correct parenting here. It’s clear that she fully intends to prepare her daughter for any predicament, and so she home-schools her in science, the arts, tennis, archery, jujitsu – whatever is necessary for her to be successful in the world. Sam Claflin as Mycroft and Henry Cavill as Sherlock, are wonderful as Enola’s brothers – Cavill in particular brings a new look to the famous detective. Louis Partridge is terrific as Enola’s young love interest the Viscount Lord Tewksbury, Marquess of Basilwether.
Filming and setting: Harry Bradbeer does a fabulous job adapting Nancy Springer’s book to film, and Jack Thorne has written a clever screenplay. The scenery is terrific, and if you like trains you will enjoy the early scenes as Enola and the Viscount flee from danger. The costumes are fabulous, and the houses are resplendent in Arts and Crafts colours and designs. Care has been taken to create visual authenticity as we are treated to tours of the British countryside, and the spectacular and seedy sides of London.
Personal Comments: This is a joyful and exuberant film. At just over two hours, it’s a little long, but everyone is having such great fun I can see how hard it must have been to cut things out. I expect Netflix will be testing the waters to see if there is an audience for an ongoing series. On the basis of this film, I think that’s highly likely.