By: Patricia Yap
Two weeks ago, I heard the news that a new Netflix original, Enola Holmes, was on its way. Though I never really cared to watch the film, people who continuously hyped over it on the internet after its release piqued my interest. As such, two weeks have passed and I’ve just finished watching the young Millie Bobby Brown as Enola on my laptop screen.
Needless to say, I enjoyed the film. I genuinely did. It was charming, adventurous, empowering, and had exceptional dialogue and presence. Labeling it as suspenseful or a detective movie, however, doesn’t exactly catch on for the rest of the film for me. But that’s alright, it wasn’t supposed to be just a mystery film in the first place.
So, if you haven’t watched Enola Holmes yet, I suggest you watch the trailer first to know more before reading:
Breaking the Fourth Wall
In the film, Enola Holmes is played by the teen actress Millie Bobby Brown, a personality that needs no further introduction. And part of what makes the film so engaging is Brown herself and her effortless talent for breaking the fourth wall. Throughout the film, Enola gives momentary glances to the viewer and talks to them, as if dragging them into the story. Henry Cavill, who plays the part of Sherlock Holmes, Enola’s big brother, says he thinks this is extremely difficult to do unless the person doing it is remarkably charismatic. Fortunately, Brown is.
Now, the reason why I comment on this is that although this is not a new film technique, it is still a practice that can make movies feel more authentic and genuine; inviting audiences to think and feel with the character. Although Brown did it so wonderfully, viewers might have opposed views. Some would enjoy the addition while others might not. I found it quirky and suited for what the film wanted to tell us (I’ll get to this later) and Brown’s character, but in terms of the plot, it can sometimes pull and distract people away from the moment of the story.
Much of the movie was centered on breaking stereotypes, rebelling against the “norms”, and speaking up and being heard as a woman. Brown’s character, Enola, exemplifies this. She constantly shows what her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) has taught her—to be brave, to be witty, and to fight among others. When Enola met Viscount Tewksbury (Louis Partridge) on the train, she saved her and not the other way around. And when Enola ended up in the finishing school, though Tewksbury aided her escape, we know Enola could have gotten out herself just perfectly fine.
On top of this, not only did Enola show her strengths as a woman through her physical abilities but also her intelligence and heart. Every step of the way, Enola was able to outsmart and move faster than her brothers, even until the end when Sherlock thought he could trick her into meeting with them.
Enola and Tewksbury
Honestly, I found it out of place that suddenly there’s this young boy interjected into Enola’s story. Like what Eudoria told her, “Don’t be thrown off your course by other people, especially men”. With this, I was thinking this was just a strategy to sell and hype up the movie more because who isn’t a sucker for a good love team, right? (We can’t deny the two look good together).
Turns out, the young lad, Tewksbury, served a purpose in Enola’s story after all. He wasn’t just placed there for the sake of viewers falling for a pretty face and an adorable ship, but he aided in Enola’s growth and made her realize that she wasn’t alone. Through his character and his story, the film wasn’t just a linear narrative of Enola searching for her mom but it became an unexpected process that led to much more.
The Message: Finding Yourself
More than a mystery-detective story of an exceptionally talented and intelligent girl solving the disappearance of her mother, Enola Holmes’ message was about finding yourself and walking down your path. Eudoria’s disappearance and the journey to find her was only a trigger. It was what pushed the story and Enola to run through the world but the true message, as I would like to believe, is about choosing your path and finding yourself. So even though Enola carried the famous Holmes family name, she didn’t need to be like her brothers, especially not like Sherlock who everyone associates the last name with to being a detective.
All this time, we thought Enola was looking for Eudoria, but as it turns out Eudoria wanted Enola to grow, escape, and be free to be her person. This was such an important message that was wonderfully depicted in a story so fun and adventurous. Much like how Enola who was trying to find her path, we as individuals do too. By concluding the story with Enola not needing to find where she fits in with her brothers and halted looking for her mother, we see Enola living free, happier, and feeling less alone than she did before.
Detective Enola Holmes
However, the aforementioned message derails the narrative from how most audiences expected it to be. Because of this, some people have expressed the shortcomings of the film in terms of the whole detective aspect. I agree. There wasn’t a whole lot of sleuthing and solving going on. It was more like a bunch of codes being deciphered, a ton of following conveniently placed clues around London, and a sudden Tewksbury boy case (though I defended how this was necessary to the message above).
Towards the end, we wish there could have been more development in the whole mystery and solving scenes and we could have seen Enola be a detective like Sherlock. Now, I don’t mean she has to be like Sherlock. That’s opposing to my statements before. What I mean here is, we wish we could have seen Enola play the role of a detective more, of course in her own right that is. In the film, Enola was only a detective to an extent. Though she was admirable and truly special, she was never given the stage to show how good she was in solving a mystery.
Enola Holmes is a solid coming-of-age story of an empowered girl that’s on an unconscious journey to find her path and future. Guaranteed, the film will make you laugh, it will make you smile and it will make you feel brave and ready to take on the world as the protagonist. As a detective story, however, it falls flat. Sad to say, but Enola Holmes doesn’t deliver a strong punch to make audiences think like how most good mystery movies do.
With this, SEA Wave gives Enola Holmes a 3.5 out of 5 waves. For it to reach a five, we think the message of individuality and the plot of becoming an astounding detective could have been better merged. But of course, we’d love to know your own opinions on the film. Do you agree with us or are there opinions you don’t particularly nod at?
Time to log into your Netflix accounts and watch Enola Holmes for yourself, and let us know what you think!