Sherlock Holmes is one of the world's most famous fictional detectives. Countless spin-off novels about his side characters have come out. This new Netflix film was adapted on one such lateral spinoff from the original Arthur Conan Doyle character -- a young adult series written by Nancy Springer. These books introduced us to two women in Sherlock's life whom his followers have never heard of before -- his mother Eudoria and especially, his much younger sister Enola.
Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) was the teenage younger sister of famed detective Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill) who was 20 years her senior. She grew up only with her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) around, who taught her about various knowhow and skills deemed necessary for her development. On the morning of her 16th birthday, Enola woke up to discover that her mother had left her all alone, leaving only a gift of codes and puzzles, which Enola decided to be clues to her mother's whereabouts.
Sherlock and eldest brother Mycroft (Sam Claflin) came home to help Enola following their mother's disappearance. The brothers wanted to enroll his "uneducated" sister in his friend Miss Harrison's (Fiona Shaw) finishing school for young ladies. When she found out about this plan, Enola dressed up like a boy and headed to London to look for her mother as well. On the train, she met young Lord Tewksbury (Louis Partridge) who had also run away from his home, and had a hired killer wearing a bowler hat Linthorn (Burn Gorman) on his tail.
With a spunky Millie Bobby Brown in the title role, this whole film rode on her energetic and spirited portrayal of Enola Holmes and she really gave it her all. This protagonist broke the fourth wall to tell the audience all her opinions and plans, something which will definitely appeal a lot to her younger viewers. The way Brown played her, this precocious teen came across as winsome and delightful even for the most jaded viewer, even as she was extremely lucky. We root for her all the way as she outwits her snooty brothers with her own style of sleuthing, and could even be one step ahead of her esteemed brother Sherlock.
This was a youth-oriented spin-off and the humor and action is clearly targeted to the young adult demographic. Of course, there was a palpable feminist vein underlying the whole story, not only because of Enola's independent streak, but also with Eudoria's all-female posse of political activists, which includes martial arts instructor Edith (Susie Wokoma). Young female viewers will find the interactions between Enola and Tewksbury cute and amusing.
I wished that there would've more scenes between Enola and Sherlock, but they may be reserving these for Part 2, which I am certainly looking forward to.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."