Enola Holmes – 2020

Director Harry Bradbeer
Screenplay Jack Thorne based on The Enola Holmes Mysteries: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Sam Claflin, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter, Louis Partridge, Burn Gorman, Adeel Akhtar

Not since Jodie Foster played Becky Thatcher have I had the feeling of potential by a young actress cruising in a role she could do in her sleep. Millie Bobby Brown has been in a few good seasons of Stranger Things, and one average Godzilla movie. She’s been pretty serious in everything she’s been in so far. It’s about time she had some fun.

That she has a hand in producing this film, one of a series of books covering the fictional sister of the fictional detective, is a delight. This story is slight, has utterly no consequence, but it gives her the choice of picking her projects now, many years before she joins the list of aging actresses cast aside. Reese Witherspoon caught on to this. Debra Winger did not.

The story is about young Enola, who is abandoned by her mother on her 16th birthday. Her brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft (Cavill and Claflin) are summoned, with the latter intent of wrapping up the family homestead and ushering her off to a boarding school to civilize her. Sherlock is given the duty of discovering their mother’s whereabouts. Before this can happen Enola herself is off on her own to do her own amount of detective work.

We’re given enough information to realize that the youngest Holmes is at least as bright as her older siblings. Only, in the world of London at that time, women are expected to do no more than take a man’s hand. This is our chance to see what a young woman is capable of, with a dash of danger and a touch of mystery to solve.

The mystery really isn’t much. Everything we need to know we see in the first five minutes. And if that isn’t enough, there are plenty of flashbacks along the way to make sure we understand how things are deduced.

The point to this film, and there is one, is that we get to see a young actress on the way to her prime enjoying herself. We get to see a variety of light action and one particularly gruesome end all while pretending that maybe the mystery has something more to it.

The last part of the film has plenty left for the viewer to look forward to, should they make this into a series. I sure hope they do. This is all an important learning experience for an actress with award winning potential and a beautiful smile that heretofore we’ve seen very little.

If your kids are fans of Brown, or if you think they might enjoy a straightforward enjoyable family mystery, then you could do worse. My kids are down on the young actress at the moment, so it was left to me and my wife. Perhaps in 10 years, when she’s making bolder choices, my two will look back and wonder why they didn’t see this when it first hit the bitstream.

For now, at least two of us can look forward to the sequel.

(*** out of *****)

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