Enola Holmes (123 Minutes, 12)
To be a pioneer in feminist cinema, you need to create quirky material, significant and original enough to stand out from the crowd. Just look at Buñuel’s Belle De Jour, Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. Hell, even have a glance at the incredible Phoebe Waller Bridge as Fleabag. These strong female leads take the forefront against the worn stereotype of a macho-male protagonist.
But to make your character stand out, they must be relatable and daring enough to change your perspective, which is why the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes taking up her brother’s mantle is a fun idea but executed with a severe lack of creativity or understanding of Conan Doyle’s original text until you’re left wondering why on earth it was made at all.
Forgotten by her older brothers, hyperactive teen Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) lives a secluded, yet erratic life with her eccentric mother (Helena Bonham Carter) who on the girl’s 16th birthday, out of the blue, vanishes. Now forced into the care of elder brothers Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and Superman lookalike Sherlock (Henry Cavill), Enola rebels against the Victorian expectations of a young woman to solve riddles and mysteries even I can’t quite recall.
Issue one begins with the Holmes boys. Henry Cavill has a fine background of work – my standout being his take on Henry VIII’s bezzie mate Charles Brandon in The Tudors. But in his incessant quest to become the next Bond, he appears to be jumping from one heroic role to the next.
Unfortunately, on this occasion, he’s gone from Man of Steel to substandard sleuth.
Sherlock is a conflicted character with an eroded past, muddled not just by his obvious place on the autism spectrum but more heavily on his addiction to morphine and cocaine. Whether the writers of Enola Holmes thought it unnecessary to keep that in, or frantically keep that age certificate for a Netflix Original, the result has delivered an incredibly bland and boring Sherlock.
As for brother Mycroft, one can’t help but notice a resemblance to Dominic Raab. Stern, condescending and with a face that almost screams ‘punch me’.
The story is weak and tissue thin – enough to throw you right off track within the first 30 minutes and compounded by the constant fourth wall speaking to the audience stuff. Fleabag this ISN’T!
Frances De La Tour is a delight in an Angela Lansbury sort of way, the inclusion of Burn Gorman as a would-be Moriarty who turns out not to be Moriarty at all and Adeel Akhtar as Lestrade, giving us the same performance from his stint in the BBC’s Les Misérables only last year, is immensely trivial.
As for Enola herself, she’s less pioneering and more annoying. Though it is a good starting point for Millie Bobby Brown who, still so early in her career, has already gained applause for her role in Stranger Things, this just doesn’t seem to be the role she’ll be remembered by.
Stranger things have been spun from the works of Conan Doyle, but one can’t help but think he would be turning in his grave over this one.