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Film Review: Enola Holmes

24 September 20 words: George White

Screen Co-Editor George White checks out Enola Holmes, the first feature film from Fleabag director Harry Bradbeer... 

Director: Harry Bradbeer
Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin
Running time: 123 minutes

It’s safe to say that Millie Bobby Brown’s last big screen outing wasn’t the greatest - with Godzilla: King of the Monsters receiving a remarkably low score of 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. Luckily for Brown, then, Enola Holmes marks a significant improvement on her cinematic debut, with this film packing more enjoyable moments in its first five minutes than Godzilla did in its entire two-hour-plus runtime. 

Enola Holmes follows, erm, Enola Holmes (Brown) - younger sister of the relatively well-known detective, Sherlock (Henry Cavill) - as she travels to London to find her mother, who suddenly goes missing for reasons unknown. Along the way, she stumbles into Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), a future member of the House of Lords who has run away from home to escape his destiny and, as it turns out, a hitman in a bowler hat. Scary.

This sets up an adventure that produces plenty of entertaining set pieces and amusing comedic moments, but fails to land every punchline. The decision from director Harry Bradbeer - who has picked up some awards for his work on a TV show called Fleabag (you might have heard of it) - to once again break the fourth wall is an inspired one, allowing Brown to establish a joyful rapport with the audience from the get-go. 

While the influence of Fleabag is sometimes overbearing, Brown’s playful and breezy performance is generally delightful, her ability to bring the viewer into this action-packed world undoubtedly worthy of praise. Bradbeer’s dynamic camerawork, combined with some inventive editing techniques and creative graphic visuals, enhances the feeling of fun, with the film always looking for the next gag without taking itself too seriously.

Through its fresh take on a well-known world, this film offers a couple of hours of light-hearted entertainment for the whole family

At times, though, this can lead Holmes to feel a little too much like a teen movie, with certain jokes lacking the comedic subtlety to fully hit the mark. And, as much as the story does lead to many humorous moments, the main plot of the film is frustratingly simple, occasionally struggling to maintain the viewer’s full interest. Certain subplots also drag on for far longer than is needed, feeling as though they are inserted solely for the purpose of pushing the movie’s (admittedly admirable) messages without sufficient nuance or intricacy. 

Outside of Brown, a number of key cast members are given disappointingly little to work with. The decision to sideline Sherlock is an understandable one - this is Enola’s story, after all - but it does leave Cavill somewhat shortchanged, his iteration of the character consequently failing to display the flamboyance of Robert Downey Jr or the eccentricity of a Benedict Cumberbatch. Sam Claflin’s Mycroft Holmes is also relatively one-dimensional, the script providing no emotional depth to his character. 

Despite these criticisms, though, it is difficult not to like Enola Holmes. Through its fresh take on a well-known world, this film offers a couple of hours of light-hearted entertainment for the whole family, and is fronted by an excellent performance from Millie Bobby Brown. Director Harry Bradbeer, on his feature film debut, tells an enjoyable story through some fun visual work, and the script has just enough to keep the audience interested throughout. One thing is for certain: this is a whole lot better than Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

Did you know? Enola Holmes reunites Fiona Shaw, Helena Bonham Carter and Frances de la Tour, who were all part of the Harry Potter movies.

Enola Holmes is now available on Netflix

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