Courtesy of @milliebobbybrown on instagram
Her name might spell “alone” backward, but she is anything but. With a twist on the classic Sherlock Holmes stories, Netflix’s “Enola Holmes” smacks down the historically misogynistic stigmas of the 19th century with an independent female lead.
Based on the books by Nancy Springer, “Enola Holmes” follows 16-year-old Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) as she races across London on her own. After her mother’s peculiar disappearance, Enola finds herself under the care of her older brothers: the infamous Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and the not so progressive Mycroft (Sam Claflin). Appalled by Enola’s manners, or, rather, her lack thereof, Mycroft promptly enrolls her in finishing school to complete her education.
Despite their wishes, headstrong Enola escapes from her home to uncover the truth about her mother’s absence. Along the way, she meets another runaway: Viscount Tewksbury (Louis Partridge), a young lord wanted dead. The two form an unlikely partnership and attempt to solve both mysteries at hand, all while evading their families.
The film does an exceptional job of empowering young women. For starters, it takes place in Victorian England in 1884, an era when only males worked outside the home and also dominated politics. “Enola Holmes” destroys this idea, showing girls are just as capable of doing anything a man can.
Enola is the complete opposite of a “proper lady,” valuing adventure and intellect over social etiquette and cultural norms. Enola’s mother, Eudoria (Helen Bonham Carter), is a suffragette fighting for a reform bill, a revolutionary idea at that time. Edith (Susan Wokoma) is also a suffragette and Enola’s former jiujitsu teacher. One of the most iconic lines from the movie involves the scene where she reprimands Sherlock for thinking politics are boring since he has “no interest in changing a world that already suits [him] so well,” a statement that is still applicable to modern day politics.
Brown embodies Enola perfectly, capturing her cleverness and can-do spirit. Known for her role in Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” Brown takes a different approach with this character, one that does not involve as many near-death instances. The moments when Enola broke the fourth wall to talk to the camera gave the film a light-hearted feel and allowed the audience to connect with her, truly showing the range of Brown’s talents.
Claflin, best known for his role as Finnick Odair in “The Hunger Games,” accurately represents the old-fashioned sexist attitude of his character. Cavill, who portrayed Superman in the DC Extended Universe, added a warm undertone to the classically standoffish character.
Although 17-year-old Partridge has acted in a few movies before, “Enola Holmes” was his first major role. Despite the cast of veterans, Partridge fits in nicely with his light humor and witty personality.
The wardrobe is by far the most intriguing part of the film. Enola goes through multiple costume changes throughout the movie, switching between stereotypically male outfits and ladylike dresses depending on her motives. The clothes match the backdrop of busy London streets and the Victorian timeline, pulling the whole movie together.
Overall, “Enola Holmes” is a fantastic, empowering and feel-good movie with a refreshing take on the traditional Sherlock Holmes films. It is unclear whether or not this is the first installment in a series, but either way, it is a perfect family movie.