“Enola Holmes” is a Netflix original film that was directed by Harry Bradbeer and stars Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, and Helena Bonham Carter. The movie follows Enola Holmes (Brown), the little sister of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes (Cavill) as well as Mycroft Holmes (Claflin). She enjoyed a happy yet secluded childhood alone with her mother (Carter) before her mother abruptly left without saying a word. Enola goes on a journey to find her mother and gain independence from her two brothers, but she finds herself intertwined in a political conspiracy along the way.
The best part of the movie is Millie Bobby Brown’s performance as the main character. Brown was extremely charismatic in the role and she brought some fun & excitement into the movie that wouldn’t be there without her. The movie takes a risky choice of having Enola break the fourth wall and speak to the audience during many scenes, and normally I would be annoyed when movies do this (except for “Deadpool”), but Brown was so likeable as the character that I thought it worked very well. I thought Henry Cavill was surprisingly good as Sherlock Holmes. His version of Sherlock Holmes was more muscular than fans are used to, but he still sold the intelligence of the character and his unhealthy addiction to solving mysteries pretty well. Certain performances felt very phoned in, like Helena Bonham Carter’s, while other performances were flat out terrible, like that of Louis Partridge, who played Enola’s love-interest. However, I did enjoy much of the cinematography and the direction. The movie’s setting in 19th century London felt very lived-in and immersive, mainly due to the decent direction.
The movie’s real problem is the script, and oh boy, was it a bad one. My first issue with the script was that the storytelling was so incredibly unoriginal and cliche to the point where the movie felt more like a spoof than its own story. I could name forty other movies with the exact same plot; it was extremely lazy storytelling. My second problem with the movie is the writing of the characters. With the exception of Sherlock Holmes, all of the characters were horribly written. Almost every character that was intended to be likeable was quite the opposite, normally because they had no personality traits or they were just flat-out annoying. The two worst written characters were Enola Holmes and her mother, Eudoria Holmes.
Even though Brown was excellent as the character, Enola was still written as an extreme “Mary Sue,” meaning that her character was perfect and lacked any flaws. A character with no flaws is super boring because he/she breezes through every challenge easily, and is also unrelatable to viewers. In reality, every person has flaws, and nobody is able to overcome all obstacles in his/her path at all times. Seeing Enola solve all the mysteries within minutes, even before her genius brother, was insulting. Enola knew how to fight and overpower armed assassins, she knew multiple codes, read almost every book, etc. An example of a well-written and relatable character is Henry Hill in “Goodfellas”. He was a kind & fun-loving man to his core, but since he grew up in a neighborhood full of mafiosos, he became one and later struggled with drug addiction. That is a great character since he went through struggles anyone can relate to (to a certain extent), was impacted by his environment, and often failed to see the error of his ways. People want to watch a movie where characters have to triumph over their problems and experience arcs, not a film about a character who knows everything and is better than everyone else around her despite being only sixteen.
As previously mentioned, the writing for Eudoria Holmes was atrocious. The movie wants its viewers to like her so that they feel for Enola and understand why her mother meant so much to her. However, Enola’s mother justs appears neglectful and abusive because she left her teenage daughter alone for selfish reasons. Spoiler warning: The reason Eudoria left Enola behind was so she could support her own feminist movement. Personally, I’m a passionate supporter of feminism, but the problem that I have is that the film shoves political messages down the throats of its viewers in strange ways. What I mean by “strange ways” is the movie explicitly shows Eudoria making bombs and planning places to attack that are against her movement, so basically she is a terrorist. Just because she fights for a good cause it doesn’t mean her radical and violent methods are justified. Again, I am fully supportive of feminism, but I think it makes feminists look bad by portraying someone that is an actual murderer/terrorist in a positive light.
“Enola Holmes” is led by an incredibly charming Millie Bobby Brown, but her performance couldn’t distract from the script’s cliches, terrible characterization, ridiculously unoriginal plot, and the abysmal & misunderstood portrayal of feminism. I don’t recommend this movie to any Netflix subscribers. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was put on Netflix recently; go watch that instead.