• Michael Pogach

Pogach Reviews: Enola Holmes


When my daughter was a few days old, we took her to see her doctor, as new parents do. The doctor said she was cute. We mentioned her adorable dimples. And the doctor said: Dimples are just a muscular defect.

Turns out, that was totally true. Because doctors generally know what they’re talking about. It also turns out that cleft chins (or butt-chins) are also a defect, this time of the skeletal structure of the chin.

These two facts mean Henry Cavill has one of the most defective faces around.

Go ahead, let that sit a moment while I talk about Enola Holmes.

This is an enjoyable film starring Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven, from Stranger Things) as Enola Holmes, the younger sister of Sherlock (Cavill) and Mycroft Holmes (Sam Clafflin, another man with a majorly defective face). On Enola’s sixteenth birthday—years after Sherlock and Mycroft have left the nest and begun making their fame in the world—she wakes to find her mother has vanished. Enola is convinced that her mother has left for a purpose, not simply abandoned her, and that this purpose can be deciphered through clues her mother has left her.

In pursuit of her mother, Enola encounters a young viscount on the run for his life. Though she finds the boy tedious and bit of a “nincompoop,” she is also drawn to him, and it’s not long until she gets wrapped up in the mystery of who is trying to kill him.

Brown does a nice job playing Enola, with enough Holmesian cache to make it work, without treading into cliché territory by borrowing too much from Downey or Cumberbatch or any one of the dozens of other Sherlocks over the years. Her portrayal is part Nancy Drew, part Sherlock pastiche (but not too much), and part Eleven, trying out the big bad world on her own—all of which makes for a good bit of fun.

For those who steep themselves in Sherlock lore, Cavill does little to impress in his role as the famous detective, though I suspect this is on purpose. There is a tiny glint of both humility and joy in his eye that say he is in on the joke of the giant detective playing second fiddle to his little sister. Claflin’s Mycroft, on the other hand, is borderline ridiculous in the way Inspector Gadget plays the fool to his niece Penny.

Enola Holmes is a fun film and a refreshing twist on the Sherlock mythos, introducing a new character to the brand who can carry that weight admirably on her own. It’s based on a series of young adult novels by Nancy springer, and I suspect there will be sequels coming to Netflix at some point in the future, which is definitely a good thing.

4 / 5 stars

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