ENJOYA“ENOLA HOLMES” DELIVERS IMMENSELY BLE FAMILY PLEASURE
A TV Review by Tim Riley
“ENOLA HOLMES” ON NETFLIX While the summer is now over and gone and Hollywood held back almost all of its major film releases during the prime season, entertaining family fun at the movies dwindled down to streaming service offerings.Turning to Netflix, the choices weren’t always that welcoming for families. Consider the controversy that erupted over eleven-year-old girls in a provocative dance crew twerking their moves in “Cuties.” But now there is something for people of practically every age to enjoy on Netflix, and that would be “Enola Holmes,” starring the delightful Millie Bobby Brown as the titular character, the much younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes.
Set in England’s Victorian era of 1884, “Enola Holmes” delights as much with its gorgeous scenery of the countryside that contrasts with the urban jungle of bustling London as it does with appealing characters, of which Enola is the most engaging and charming.Living far from England’s capital city, Enola (who’s name she reminds us often spells “alone” backwards) is a free-spirited independent living with her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), where she’s homeschooled on everything from great literature to self-defense.She’s never really known her older brothers who live and work in London. Sherlock (Henry Cavill), the famous detective, and the even older Mycroft (Sam Claflin), a government functionary, only appear on the scene after Eudoria goes missing. On the morning of her sixteenth birthday, Enola wakes to find that her mother has disappeared, leaving behind an odd assortment of gifts and no immediately apparent reason as to where she’s gone or why, and yet a few cryptic clues only a sleuth could figure are left behind.
Enola’s unconventional upbringing is now uprooted when her siblings decide she’ll be under the guardian care of the stiff, uncaring Mycroft, who decides what’s best is placement of his sister in a girls’ finishing school run by the austere Miss Harrison (Fiona Shaw).Wanting to prove that she has innate detective skills and to express a thoroughly modern sentiment of feminism, Enola runs off to catch a train to London in search of her wayward mother.
Often breaking the fourth wall, Enola speaks directly to the audience in frequently comical self-aware declarations of her pursuits. After crashing her bicycle and landing in the dirt, she dryly explains that “cycling is not one of my core strengths.”What is certainly one of her strengths is a fearless willingness to confront adventure and danger with enormous self-confidence, such as rescuing fellow teenage train passenger Viscount Tewksbury (Louis Partridge) escaping an assassin.
A bond is formed between the young lord and the runaway budding sleuth, but romance is not what is on the mind of Enola. In fact, she seems initially to regard her new companion as more of a hindrance until realizing they share common interests.Disguising herself on occasion in boyish clothes, Enola has no problem expressing a defiance of the existing social order of the Victorian period, and this will serve her well to navigate the treacherous pitfalls of the big city.
While focused on her primary mission to locate her mother, Enola gets caught up in the political turmoil that surrounds an upcoming critical vote in the House of Lords that would consider the granting of suffrage to women. The mystery of why the life of the young aristocrat is in danger could be related to actions pending in Parliament. At this point, any political issues are just another subplot that may prove important to the story, or it’s just another diversio
Since “Enola Holmes” is based on the Nancy Springer young adult novel “The Case of the Missing Marquess,” the first installment in a series of mysteries, sequels could be on the horizon. Keep in mind that Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories of literature’s most famous detective did not include a spirited younger sister, perhaps because it would not fit with the expected propriety of the times. As long as Millie Bobby Brown remains in the picture to carry on the Holmes tradition, Netflix would do well to continue adapting the Springer books. Sherlock’s catchphrase “the game is afoot” should be the guide.