I’ve long been a Sherlock Holmes fan. Read all the books. Made a pilgrimage to Baker Street in London. Visited the Sherlock Holmes Pub. Seen most of the movies.
I say most, because there have been over 250 movies about the great consulting detective. Sherlock Holmes holds the record as the most portrayed literary human character in film and TV. Since his creation in 1887, Sherlock Holmes has been played by over 75 actors .
I’ve met Basil Rathbone who portrayed Holmes in 14 Hollywood movies and in a long-running radio series. We spent a lovely afternoon discussing the character created by Arthur Conan Doyle (based on an old professor, Dr. Joseph Bell).
Rathbone’s “The Hound of the Baskerville” (1939) is generally considered best of the Sherlock Holmes films.
There have been movies about Sherlock as a boy (“Young Sherlock Holmes”); about a man who imagines himself to be Holmes (“They Might Be Giants”); and about his relatives (“The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother”).
Now there’s a new movie about his sister, an interesting little oddity called “Enola Holmes.”
Millie Bobby Brown (you’ll remember her as Eleven in TV’s “Stranger Things”) plays the 16-year-old sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, a headstrong girl who goes to London in search of their mother who has disappeared.
Henry Cavill (“Superman”) joins her as Sherlock. And Sam Claflin (“The Hunger Games”) takes on the role of Mycroft. Helena Bonham Carter (“The King’s Speech”) completes the family as the missing mother Eudoria, an eccentric suffrage-supporting woman who has taught her daughter well – subjects ranging from classical literature to ju-jitsu.
Louis Partridge plays the young viscount whom Enola befriends. And saves. Burn Gorman is the man in the brown bowler hat who pursues them. It has to do with a vote in Parliament for reform, something that people in power don’t want.
There’s no Watson in this story, but Inspector Lestrade makes an appearance, sparring with Enola over who knows Sherlock Holmes best. She wins, of course.
Directed by Harry Bradbeer (TV’s “Fleabag,” “Killing Eve”), the film was adapted from the YA book series by Nancy Springer. Although an American author, Springer pays proper homage to Conan Doyle’s British masterpiece.
Turns out, Millie Bobby Brown had read “The Enola Holmes Mysteries” as a child, and convinced her father to approach Legendary Pictures with the idea of turning it into a starring vehicle for her.
Originally planned for a theatrical release, the distribution rights to the film were sold to Netflix due to the Covid-19 pandemic. You can catch it on that streaming video platform.
Brown got to improvise a lot in “Enola Holmes,” constantly breaking the Fourth Wall, sharing her thoughts and reactions with the audience. She pulls it off with a winning we’re-sharing-a-secret twinkle in her eye.
You will enjoy the train ride across the British countryside, the chases through the streets of London, the non-stop action. The production does a good job of recreating a gritty Victorian London. And the title designs are quite stylish. But most of the credit should go to the winning performance by Millie Bobby Brown as the clever, scrappy girl who proves herself a match for her more famous brothers.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 90% approval rating, noting that “‘Enola Holmes’ brings a breath of fresh air to Baker Street – and leaves plenty of room for Millie Bobby Brown to put her effervescent stamp on a franchise in waiting.”
As we learn, Enola is Alone spelled backward. But “Enola Holmes” is not going to be a stand-alone film. A sequel is being planned.