‘Enola Holmes’ explores Victorian feminism

Netflix’s ‘Enola Holmes’ follows the younger sister of the infamous Sherlock Holmes as she makes her own way in the world and solves a mystery along the way. // Photo courtesy of Netflix

Our Take: 3.5/5 Stars

Enola Holmes’ sleuthing skills rival those of her brother’s in the new movie “Enola Holmes.” As the younger sister of the infamous Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill, “The Witcher”), Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things’’) possesses the same inquisitive mind as her brother. However, the intelligence and insight that empower Sherlock are defiant traits in Enola.

Luckily, Enola intends to prove to the world that she does not have to conform to what society expects her to be in order to thrive.

The movie is centered around the disappearance of Enola’s mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter, “Fight Club”), which sparks a chain of events that culminate in Enola using her powers of deduction for good. The adventure takes place across London during the suffrage movement, which is fitting given Enola’s own battle with her brothers for freedom.

The movie begins with Eudoria’s disappearance, which prompts the arrival of Enola’s brothers Mycroft (Sam Claflin, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”) and Sherlock. Mycroft’s blatant disapproval of Enola’s upbringing is evident when he attempts to send Enola to finishing school so she can learn to become a proper lady. The conflict between Mycroft and Enola is the true central conflict of the movie: the liberation of women in a patriarchal society.

Along this theme, Enola believes there is more to her mother’s disappearance than meets the eye, and intends to find out what is really going on using her skills of observation, recollection, and deduction, which rival those of Sherlock. She sneaks away from her brothers with the intention of making her own way in the world.

On her journey to London, Enola stumbles upon her first case: the runaway Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge, “Paddington 2”), who has an assassin hot on his trail. While she initially declines to help the Viscount to focus on her mother’s disappearance, she soon realizes the dangers he faces after being caught by the assassin herself.

Like Enola, the Viscount is running from the path his family wants him to follow. His own destiny lies in the battle between the traditionalists and progressives, which makes its way to the forefront of Enola’s hunt as the Reform Bill looms over England.

While one might expect that Sherlock will assist Enola on her quest, his role in the movie is that of a bystander. He never commits to helping her nor finding their mother, and instead watches along with the viewer as the story unfolds before him.

Sherlock’s ignorance of politics and social niceties is an interesting idea that is brought forth as he finds himself in the middle of the suffrage movement.

Edith (Susan Wokoma, “Crazyhead”), a suffragette who works with Eudoria, tells Sherlock, “Politics doesn’t interest you because you have no interest in changing a world that suits you so well.” This line is poignant and meaningful coming from a woman of color, and brings “Enola Holmes” into the 21st century.

The enduring family-friendly nature of the film alongside its more mature themes adds a light and humorous charm to the difficult task Enola must undertake. Enola maintains an inspiring confidence and maturity as she discovers the world, yet her playfulness conveys that she is still a kid at heart.

Despite its inspiring nature, Enola Holmes falls short of a true mystery movie. Enola’s search for both her mother and the mastermind intent on killing Viscount Tewkesbury leaves her juggling between two cases, with little time for either to develop fully.

Furthermore, Enola breaks the fourth wall often during the movie.

What starts out as an interesting aside to the viewers quickly becomes an unnecessary break during interesting and action-packed scenes.

The new perspective Enola brings to the table makes for an interesting movie, but it is nowhere near the intense mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. However, what the movie lacks in story development, it makes up for in a few key scenes that make the viewer root for Enola and what she stands for.