With cinema attendance understandably low, and studios reluctant to release new movies into theatres, it is up to the streaming services (Disney+, Amazon Prime Video etc) to keep film fans entertained. This week it is the turn of Netflix who are treating subscribers to Enola Holmes – a light-hearted mystery movie from director Harry Bradbeer.
Based on the Enola Holmes Mysteries by author Nancy Springer, the movie follows the adventures of strong-willed young sleuth, Enola, who is the sister of Sherlock Holmes. Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown takes on the eponymous role, while Henry Cavill and Sam Claflin play her brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft respectively, and Helena Bonham Carter pops up as mother, Eudoria.
In the story, Enola finds herself caught up in a perplexing mystery when her mother suddenly disappears. Keen to investigate, Enola sets out to London hot on her trail, but soon becomes embroiled in another mystery with bigger ramifications for the country.
Over the course of the two-hour picture, Enola learns more about her mother, herself, and the wider world around her. The result is in an intriguing adventure of growth and self-discovery, perfect for families of all ages, including teenagers who may not want to sit and watch a film with their parents.
As with many movies that were due out in 2020, Enola Holmes is a film that was originally destined for the big screen. However, when the pandemic hit, Netflix acquired distribution rights in order to bring the movie to streamers.
In my opinion, this was a wise move. Not only because the film has successfully managed to circumvent the problems many studios are having over how best to distribute films, but also because this picture feels naturally at ease on Netflix.
It’s quirky, it’s fun, and it showcases two of Netflix’s bankable stars in Brown and Cavill. It also feels like a movie which works much better on a streaming platform than it would on the big screen.
For me personally, had this film made it into cinemas I doubt I would have rushed out to see it. My interest in Sherlock Holmes and related characters is only so-so, and I do feel like I have already seen enough Holmes stories to fill my quota.
But having Enola Holmes available at the touch of a button, I decided to give it a go and was pleasantly surprised. In fact, I previously said that Netflix was “treating subscribers” by bringing this to the service and I believe this to be true, as Enola Holmes is a wonderful romp, which really does feel like a gift in these rather uncertain times.
From the moment the movie begins, it is clear this is going to be a fun picture, with dashes of humour throughout. Brown is extremely likeable as Enola, and her constant desire to break the fourth wall is an instantly enjoyable way to engage with audiences.
Those who have watched Brown come of age in Stranger Things will known she has a strong screen presence, but here she takes things up a notch, effortlessly leading a movie and making it her own. She takes a character who could easily be palmed off as a second-rate Sherlock, and imbues her with a real sense of energy and depth.
I can happily say that I was less than half-way into this movie when I had already decided I wanted to see more. If I had the power to green light sequels based on Brown’s performance alone, I would be doing it.
But praise must also be bestowed on the supporting cast who are all on good form, particular Cavill. His Sherlock is important to the movie, but at no point does his performance overshadow the picture and this should be commended.
Going into this film I expected Sherlock to swallow up too much screen time, and this is possibly why I was less enthused about giving it a go. But Sherlock’s involvement is perfectly balanced, and combined with Cavill’s approach to the character he fits in nicely.
Mix all this together with some stunning scenery, a real attention to detail, a dash of action, and some social commentary, and Enola Holmes is a joy to watch. While I personally found the recent Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies a huge disappointment, and frankly quite off-putting, Enola Holmes is the exact opposite and updates this world for a new audience.
A big thumbs up. The film is a great slice of entertainment, and feels like a warm hug which I’m pretty confident we could all do with right now.
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