Review: Enola Holmes (2020)

Elementary, my dear reader…I deduce that this movie is fantastic!

Having watched nearly every original movie Netflix has released over the last six months,  I’ve come to expect each new release to be either a melodramatic drama, a lacklustre thriller, or a bland romantic-comedy. Netflix rarely seems to take any bold chances with their original content and for me, it always leaves me less than enthused to watch their new movies. But when I saw the trailer for Enola Holmes (2020), I was actually excited! To see Netflix doing something different and putting out a teen mystery / adventure / period piece, made me think that there was hope the streaming service was still able to surprise and delight. There’s no mystery here. Enola Holmes is a winner. 

Credit: imdb.com / Netflix

Based on the series of books, “The Enola Holmes Mysteries,” Enola Holmes follows the adventures of the titular character, the 16-year-old sister of legendary detective, Sherlock Holmes. When her mother mysteriously vanishes, Enola sets out to find her using nothing but her strength, wits, and courage. However, it’s not long before Enola finds herself wrapped up in a larger, more sinister, mystery than she ever could have imagined.

While I was definitely excited to see this movie, there was a voice in the back of my mind that kept reminding me not to get my hopes up too high. Not only has Netflix repeatedly let me down, but so have several recent reimaginings or adaptations that try to tell a new story with a new protagonist, but end up mindlessly rehashing the source material. I’m looking at you, The Hustle (2019). By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. But Enola Holmes soars far above the average adaptation and manages to successfully deliver a movie that is a bona fide breathe of fresh air. Brimming with genuine enjoyment, charm, and all-around fantastic filmmaking, I had a blast watching this movie. As long as Hollywood continues to adapt every single piece of intellectual property in search of the next big movie franchise, I sincerely hope they’re able to execute each movie with as much fun and freshness as Enola Holmes managed to do. I really admired how the team was able to take something audiences are familiar with (the stories of Sherlock Holmes), and use that established world as a jumping-off point to deliver a sensational new story that is sure to earn a legion of devoted fans.

Right off the bat, I was blown away by the astounding production and costume design of Enola Holmes. I’m a sucker for a movie that’s lush with intricately designed sets and costumes with a lot of thought put into them, and Enola Holmes more than delivers. It’s top-notch craftsmanship. There’s an old-school, remarkable, cinematic quality in every aspect of this movie, making it look and feel like it belongs on the big screen. Which, is a big win for Netflix. If you’re familiar with their usual work, “cinematic quality” is not exactly their strong suit. I was so proud of them for putting in the effort to create a world that viewers will have no trouble (and wholheartedly enjoy), slipping into. I was practically screaming with glee at my TV going, “YASSSS Netflix! You spend that money and film on location at this gorgeous English manor house!”

You know what this movie most reminded me of? The mid 2000s book-to-screen adaptations that were wonderfully fully-realized, filled with magic and adventure, and phenomenally made. The ones that even though they were aimed at a younger audience, even adults ended up liking. I’m talking about the Harry Potter series (2001 – 2011), The Chronicles of Narnia (2005 – 2010), and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004). By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. There’s something nostalgic about the way Enola Holmes is shot, written, and acted, and from start to finish this fun, fast-paced movie made me feel just like a kid again. Ugh, being 24 just doesn’t feel as good as being 12 did. I know, understatement of the year.

What a talented, versatile, and endearing cast Enola Holmes assembles. It’s the type of lovely cast that you hope stick around for future sequels. Of which, I’m confident there will at be least two. Helena Bonham Carter, Sam Claflin, and Henry Cavill are all delightfully well-cast, and to watch them take such pleasure in their roles is equally as pleasing as a viewer. While those three stars are lovely, it’s Millie Bobby Brown who is the movie’s undisputed MVP. Enola is a great role for Brown. Spunky, determined, resourceful, and full of surprises, Enola is a fascinating character to watch. She’s already a well-written and well-rounded protagonist, but Brown makes her come alive by endowing her with a sparkling wit, a whip-smart mind, and enough charisma to sell this franchise. Seriously, I’m so down for more of these movies. Brown’s Enola is an inspiration to watch, and sure to be a character young viewers will be looking up to and wanting to emulate for years to come.

As I was watching I couldn’t help but think of how refreshing it is to see a movie marketed towards a young audience that is so well- balanced. Enola Holmes may be full of action and adventure, but it’s also an intriguing mystery with plenty of twists, a winning Young Adult adaptation, and a rousing story of challenging the status quo. It manages to give young audiences everything they could want out of a movie without ever feeling like they’re being pandered to. Truly, my only gripe with Enola Holmes is that the two hour runtime could have been edited down so that the movie was a tad tighter and more cohesive. Other than that though, I greatly enjoyed the entirety of this movie.

With Enola Holmes, Netflix has the beginnings of a solid franchise on their hands. The movie delivers everything a first instalment should, and wisely teases audiences with just enough so that we’re all left excitedly waiting for Enola’s next adventure. I for one, can’t wait. I am fully an Enola Holmes fan from now on. Case closed.

Have you seen Enola Holmes? What did you think?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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