Enola Holmes ★★½

To understand the flaws of Enola Holmes, you first have to understand the lawsuit the Arthur Conan Doyle estate filed against Netflix. The estate believes that the film depicts Sherlock Holmes as having emotions, a character trait absent from the novels in the public domain - and one only depicted in a small handful of books published in the mid-1920s, which the estate still own the rights to.

On the surface of it, this is hilariously trivial, akin to Lionel Hutz filing a false advertising lawsuit against The Never-Ending Story in The Simpsons. But, unexpectedly, this behind the scenes drama manages to hit the nail on the head of what is so lacking in director Harry Bradbeer’s YA detective story. Enola Holmes doesn’t feel like fan fiction set within Conan Doyle’s beloved universe so much as it feels like the work of someone who lifted universally famous characters for their own story, without so much as considering the characteristics that have made them so enduring for centuries.

Which is an unfortunate hurdle for Harry Bradbeer’s film, adapted from a YA series by Nancy Springer. If it weren’t saddled with the baggage of one of the most famous literary franchises and introduced a heroine who didn’t share the same lineage as Baker Street’s world famous detective, this would have been a fun family adventure - one that wouldn’t be too far removed from the finished product here. But the ever-mounting liberties it takes by tying itself to Conan Doyle’s world keeps bringing the film to a screeching halt, ignoring all of Sherlock Holmes’ famous quirks to the point it’s inexplicable why this wasn’t divorced from that universe entirely.

Full review on The Digital Fix
2020 Ranked