Enola Holmes

A strong case for wielding sympathy and perspective in film. This is a piece of bourgeois feminist detectiving, but it manages some remarkable things. First, it employs the title character's perspective throughout without watering it down, removing her agency, or turning her into a damsel in distress. By centering her throughout, it roots us in her prejudices, thought processes, and strength. By doing so, it can present the views of Mycroft, for instance, without endorsing them. Instead, we're following Enola's viewpoint and seeing those views from her eyes. He is antagonistic to her, seeking to control and warp her, and those conservative views are connected without much ceremony to his views on the Reform Bill. It presents the sexism of the era without endorsing it! One-hundred thousand regressive cinephiles clinging to their reactionary period pieces recoil in horror.

Second, it presents a more radical approach. It acknowledges it and even implies it might have been effective, though it stops short of full endorsement. Instead, it presents another way via Enola's shenanigans, a conciliatory, bourgeois method of passing the Reform Bill. It lacks any real analysis, but it at least showed a mostly sympathetic character fighting through radical means for sympathetic reasons. That's more than most big studio efforts would manage.

Of course, it falls into the usual failings of such films: people of color are sidelined for white characters in a way that makes them props. The attempt to be more diverse is a failed attempt. It's more diverse, certainly, but not more inclusive. We have people of color as barely more than scenery; even Lestrade is supporting cast. They don't even give the paperboy any lines. It's superficial (hence bourgeois feminism), not nearly enough.

All the same, this is a lite feminist detective story, which is almost perfectly designed for my tastes. If the feminism were more proletarian (or hell, even properly intersectional) or the mystery more complex, it'd be perfect. I'll watch every sequel.