CharlesYang’s review published on Letterboxd:
Everyone knows who Sherlock Holmes is, right?
English gentlemen, well dressed, highly educated, pipe smoking, pimp cane wielding, detective who lives on 221B Baker Street? Considered one of the greatest analytical minds of all time?
Well, do you also remember his older brother Mycroft Holmes? His nefarious older sibling who is sometimes his rival/ally who works directly with Her Majesty's government? Who even some consider to be far superior to his detective brother when it comes to detective reasoning?
But this story isn't about either of them. It's about thier previously unknown sister Enola Holmes. If you've never heard of her, I'm not surprised. Even I didn't know she existed. But whatever, right? Suspension of disbelief and all that jazz.
Enola Holmes is defiantly a pro- feminist, pro "she did that" type of film. Enola's mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) made sure her daughter was given a full and proper education. Chess and code breaking? A must. Martial arts and explosives training? Hell yeah.
Ok. Cool. Let's hope they don't fuck it up.
And....surprise, surprise. They didn't.
Let me list the ways this film avoided the pitfalls that Mulan and Captain Marvel and so many other woman empowerment films have failed.
1) Enola Holmes is not a God. She is not a Mary Sue. Nor is she immaculately invincible in every conceivable way when compared to everyone else.
She is an ordinary person thrown into extraordinary circumstances beyond her control.
She has no super saiyan mode with the song "I'm just a Girl" by No Doubt playing in the background. Nor does she have a magical phoenix who follows her around signifying her messianic destiny.
She is definitly smart. She may lack Mycroft's political acumen and Sherlock's off the wall brand of sleuthing. But she has inherent in her nature, an observant soul, an insightful mind and a courage that has no bounds. But never did the film downplay Mycroft or Sherlock or men in particular to trump her up as superior. Which is so rare these days.
She definitly suffers from a lack of experience. But unmoored from the close minded world of her two older brothers, her fresh young eyes are able to grasp simple truths that can even escape thier talented eyes. That is her strength.
There is no midi-chlorian bullshit here. Everything she does in this film is directly due to her mother's teaching, her own hard work and an intuition that constantly keeps her two steps ahead of her pursuers.
Millie Bobby Brown really has come into her own here. She for the first time is given a chance to be a leading lady and shine front and center in her own film. And....She commands it! Every scene. She owns the show.
While a headstrong and independent girl, she is still very much a vulnerable 16 year old desperately looking for a parent who she felt has abandoned her. It's this vulnerability that keeps her grounded and human.
2) It handled it's themes perfectly. Subtle and not too preachy.
The vibe of the film is striving for one's personal freedom and liberty. It centers around a vote that will decide if common people are able to vote for not when it comes to deciding the future of themselves and thier own nation.
It calls to the forefront the classic battle of a young idealist generation at war with an old traditionally feudal system of a privileged few ruling over under privileged many.
It's all beautifully done because it doesn't try too hard.
Was there stupid social justice bullshit crammed into the plot? Yes. But it wasn't anything so damn in your face. I'm actually surprised as to how laid back and restrained it all was. Look, I'm for equality. But was there really a black woman who was actually a judo/jujitsu sensei in Late Victorian England, who ran her own secret feminist freedom fighter dojo disguised as a tea house? I find the concept pretty far fetched.
3) The perfect as hell pacing.
It moves from scene to scene at a quick and lively pace. No set piece outstayed it welcome. No dialogue was missed place. Every character has thier time and place.
Enola Holmes makes the 2 hour runtime fly by without much fuss.
And there you have it. My over simplified review of a surprisingly good film.
It's good to know that this film wasn't just another fiasco in Netflix's 2020 lineup. Sometimes a broken clock can be....hit the nail on the head....twice as right....all the time....