This review includes spoilers from the film Enola Holmes. If you plan on watching it, we advise doing so before reading this article.
With the dangers of going to movie theatres during this pandemic, it seems as though the whole film industry is having a hard time producing and obtaining new content. Luckily, we have turned to the world of Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more. Even without movie theaters, thanks to these streaming services, we can still find new interests in pop culture despite staying at home everyday. Although we don’t get the same thrill of seeing movies with friends in person, hearing excited whispers and stifled giggles throughout whatever we were seeing, at least there’s one upside to being able to stay at home; projects on streaming services end up being pushed forward into release. On September 23rd, the Netflix original movie Enola Holmes dropped internationally. Though there was one trailer beforehand, it sparked joy within book nerds (such as myself), as well as superhero and Netflix original fans alike.
Millie Bobby Brown stars in the film, playing the elusive and intelligent titular character Enola Holmes. The plot follows Enola on her mysterious quest to find her mother, who suddenly disappears. The twist? She’s dragged the Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether, (a mouthful, and therefore we will be calling him Tewkesbury) along on her journey after an attempted murder on their train ride. When she insists that she must go through this mystery alone, he obliges and they go their separate ways once they reach London. However, after finding out her mother isn’t all that she’s cracked up to be, Enola’s path leads her straight back to a certain Viscount (played by breakout star Louis Partridge), where another mystery awaits. The plot is charming, and the trailer does a good job of expressing that, with Enola narrating as she does throughout the movie. It gets more intense as the music crescendos, Enola’s monologue increases in fierceness, and clips of her fighting flash by to the beat of the music. Once I watched the movie, it took a little bit of time to settle in because they have to establish Enola’s family relations, her ties to the infamous Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. But everything after flowed so nicely that by the time the credits rolled, I didn’t even realize that two hours had passed by.
Upon watching the movie, I realized how oddly certain characters were written in comparison to the original content, like Enola’s siblings. Sherlock is still witty, but Mycroft, it seemed, was written as one of the antagonists. It also seemed as though he’d been somewhat dumbed-down for the sake of the film, when in canon he has always been written as smarter than his younger brother. However, I find that it fit the plot well, and if I hadn’t been so familiar with the books I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. The protagonists Enola and Tewkesbury really gave the movie a lighthearted element I didn’t see in the trailer. Yes, I know this movie is meant for a younger demographic, so I don’t understand why I thought this film would take a dark turn. But Tewkesbury and Enola complement each other well. Whenever they were on screen together, it brought a smile to my face, and it made it more fun knowing that Enola would admire Twekesbury whenever he was away and then go back to being intimidating once they were reunited. Speaking of Enola, I absolutely loved her character. There’s always a lot of controversy surrounding female roles and how they’re portrayed due to seeming either too strong or possessing too little of certain traits. Examples include Hermione Granger, who is often seen as too smart, and Korra from The Legend of Korra, who is seen as too arrogant due to the power she possesses. With Enola, it feels like she’s the missing puzzle piece for younger girls who need a hero to look up to. Not only is she strong physically and mentally, you also see that throughout the movie that she allows herself to be vulnerable towards her counterpart, Tewkesbury. This is a very big development for her, considering that she had always been brought up to think that she didn’t need a man by her side, with being alone as the ideal, she had always been the one to take initiative in any given situation.
Tewkesbury, on the other hand, complements her perfectly. Where she is strong and stubborn, he is gentle and sarcastic, but always supportive of her actions as a progressive individual, as he is one himself. Because this movie displays themes of feminism in a period where that was deemed unacceptable, their subversion of gender norms was very satisfying to see. With Enola, she was taught many sports and is educated in self defense. Tewkesbury on the other hand was always interested in the art of herbology thanks to his father. You can see how well educated he is on the subject through his knowledge of the metaphorical language of flowers, as well as the Latin names of many plants. Though irrelevant, knowing he has a passion for pressing flowers made my heart burst, and I’m sure many others felt the same way I did when he kissed her hand as a goodbye (for now, at least). They remind me of a more modern act of Amybeth Mcnulty and Lucas Jade Zumann’s Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe (from Anne With an E).
Props to the cast though, especially the younger cast members. It was nice seeing the way Millie and Louis play out the dynamic and the subtext of it all. They have chemistry, but it’s up to us to interpret how their characters are seen; friends or budding lovers? The two balanced each other out, and played the smart and intimidating mean girl versus the soft boy who lacks common sense trope well. Millie did an amazing job bringing Enola to life, who is a drastic contrast to her breakout role Eleven on Stranger Things. And on top of that, managing to produce this project? You know she will definitely be going places, whether it be on-screen or off. Someone who really intrigued me though was Louis, who’s best known as the media’s most recent white boy of the month. At first, I thought he was merely going to be a pretty face, and that scared me. But his performance was captivating, and he portrayed the character very differently than how he originally was written in the books. It’s a good thing, to see someone with so much potential taking on a role he’d never done before with the lack of content for his character, as well as having to suit up to fit the time period, which was very impressive. I hope it’s only a matter of time before I see Partridge on a larger screen or even in a main role elsewhere.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable movie. Despite the lack of attention-grabbing moments earlier in the film, I managed to sit through it and get a good laugh in. As someone who is very interested in period dramas, I found the cinematography aesthetically pleasing, and almost painting-like. Not to mention how beautifully crafted the costumes were. You can tell how much detail they put into each piece worn. The characters really managed to find a way into my heart, as I now long for a sequel after Enola and Tewkesbury’s goodbye. Even if you’re not into that though, I highly recommend this movie just to showcase the amount of talent in this cast. You can find Enola Holmes on Netflix now!