Enola Holmes ★★★½

The biggest strength of Enola Holmes is pretty much exactly what you would expect it to be: the limitless charm of Millie Bobby Brown pretty much given free reign to carry the film and really just fourth wall her ass off, a la Deadpool and Ferris Bueller. Even if you love what Millie is doing here (and I actually REALLY do), the plot itself seems a little too unfocused to really elevate my score into a more top tier area. The story is a bit of a meandering mess revolving around a few different mysteries such as "to where has Enola's mother disappeared?" and "why or for whom is sketchy cliche henchman trying to kill supporting character x and Enola?" and "why is Mycroft such an absolute rubbish dick?" We get the answer to two of those questions, but I suppose we will never know about the third.

Millie's screen presence and use of expressions in Stranger Things, despite playing a character not using much dialogue or outward emotional range (especially early on), was enough to be captivating since she was young, but she is now really showing the ability to flourish as a more rounded actress, given this huge spotlight. Her portrayal of the teenage sister of Sherlock Holmes is excellent here, frankly a lot better than the material with which she is working. Substituting an average actress for her performance here probably would have yielded a score at least two and a half points (of 10) lower for me. Her sense of comedy is excellent, and she is able to create a courageous, endearing and lovable introduction for this lead character into the world of film. Yes, she breaks the fourth wall a ton... but I don't want to hear you complain about it unless you complained about it with Deadpool and Bueller also. I honestly think it's a great use of her character's personality. This character is clearly designed to be a positive role model for girls, and this direct level of interaction with them is far from a bad thing. As much as I can appreciate the larger than life spectacle of a Captain Marvel or Wonder Woman, Enola Holmes is everything you want in a strong female hero. Like most female film heroes, she has the look and charm to pull it off and the kind of bravery befitting a hero. Just as importantly, though, she has a great heart, a creatively educated mind, and the street smarts approach of a much less larger than life character.

Beyond Brown's performance, I'll give a quick shoutout to a very likable supporting turn from Louis Partridge, but I want to focus mostly on Henry Cavill. Cavill really makes the most of his surprisingly limited screen time as Sherlock Holmes. He's putting on probably the most kind and gentle Holmes that has ever been placed on screen, to my knowledge. I really could not care less if that personality is relevant to book canon or not, but it works for his part in this film and creates an interesting pseudo-mentor dynamic with his estranged sister in the lead role. I imagine that if a sequel is created that he will play an even bigger role in the film, with Enola's introduction well established in this original. Here's a piece of real life absurdity, regarding Cavill's Holmes. From Wiki: [[[ "The Conan Doyle Estate filed a lawsuit against Netflix over the film, claiming it violates copyright by depicting Sherlock Holmes as having emotions, an aspect of the character which they argue does not fall under the public domain as he was only described as having emotions in stories published between 1923 to 1927, and the copyright for the stories published in that period still belong to the estate." ]]] How incredibly petty is this? Sherlock Holmes does not need to be a robot for all eternity. Grow up and let people create. Petty as hell.

As touched on briefly above, I thought the story itself was "somewhat" interesting but certainly a bit messy and unfocused. The highly visual style, solid pacing and outstanding performance by Brown really carried me through a plot that could have used a rewrite to create a truly excellent film. If you are like me, you'll care a lot more about Enola's relationship with her family and the people with whom she comes into contact than the couple half-assed mystery plots she ends up chasing. The film made a bit of a mistake in fragmenting her objectives, in my opinion. You'll see what I mean, if you give it a watch. I won't say anything more, other than lamenting a really pathetic and nonsensical twist towards the end. Despite all of those things, the plot was still enough to engage me until the end because of the performances, humor and fun approach to the genre.

So throw a classic Sherlock Holmes caper in a blender with somewhat lighter Nancy Drew level stakes, Ferris Bueller's adventurous/charming tone and fourth wall love, any number of YA novels and a clean-humor version of Deadpool's winking and you basically have an idea of what to expect here. There's not much to ponder and you'll likely forget most of the story an hour later, but Brown's performance is very memorable. I hope to see more. Even with just moderate approval, this film could be a starmaking turn for Brown as a true lead actress. She has serious future Oscar aspirations if she books the right projects. If they create a sequel, I'm definitely down to give it a chance, for hope of a slightly tighter plot.

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