Netflix’s “Enola Holmes” Provides a Refreshing New Take on the Sherlock Holmes Narrative

There have been countless television and movie iterations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes mysteries, such as BBC’s incredibly popular show “Sherlock.” However, one new adaptation explores the life of Sherlock Holmes’s younger sister named Enola. Based on the novel “Enola Holmes: the Case of the Missing Marquess,” this Netflix film dives into the adventures and escapades of an intelligent young woman trying to make her way in a world determined to keep her down.

Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) has led a life unlike any other girl in her era. She has received a thorough education from her mother, Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), in everything from martial arts to chess to literature. On her sixteenth birthday, Enola wakes to find her mother missing, and is determined to solve the case of her mother’s disappearance despite the efforts of her brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock, to stop her. Escaping from her brothers, she meets the young Viscount Tewksbury (Louis Partridge), and the two must work together to solve a murder and save England itself. 

While the plot of the movie is engaging and fun, the dual storylines often make it confusing. The first mystery introduced, the disappearance of Enola’s mother, is often ignored or pushed to the side to make room for the other main conflict of saving Viscount Tewksbury from a treacherous plot against his life. While both plotlines have a fulfilling and logical conclusion, the fact that they are unrelated to each other makes it too confusing and interrupts the flow of the plot. Nonetheless, the plot is deeply engaging with its complex storyline and compelling characters. 

Additionally, Enola continually breaks the fourth wall during key points in the film, directly addressing the audience with comments about the plot or her own inner dialogue. This dialogue with the audience adds a bit more playfulness to the plot and engrosses the audience during slow moments or exposition. The uniqueness of this feature makes the film stand out among other Sherlock Holmes adaptations, as it provides a unique look into the mind and experiences of the main character.

“Enola Holmes” provides a refreshing feminist approach to the Sherlock Holmes empire, putting the famed Sherlock into the backseat of the plot and focusing one of the central plotlines around women’s suffrage during the nineteenth century. The film does a good job representing the struggles of women in this era, with a few minor exceptions—Corsets were not, in fact, symbols of female oppression, but functional garments worn by women of all classes. Overall, the feminist message of “Enola Holmes” is a unique and modern take on the male-dominated Sherlock Holmes narrative, and provides a dynamic main character for children of all ages and genders to look up to. 

With humor, clever plotlines and a compelling main character, “Enola Holmes” is the perfect escape into the past for viewers looking for an adventure. A star-studded cast and wonderful writing help transform “Enola Holmes” from a fun family movie into a major film contender in a world where streaming platforms are increasingly taking over the movie industry. For those looking for a compelling mystery and a good laugh, “Enola Holmes” is the ideal movie.