• October 28, 2020
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What is Enola Holmes?

Released on September 23, 2020, Enola Holmes, a Netflix original movie, is becoming very popular. 

The movie follows Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown), the younger sister of Mycroft (Sam Claflin), and Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill). The sixteen-year-old travels through politically charged England during 1882 to find her mother.

With an immense age gap separating her from her elder brothers, she grew up with only her mother for company, Eudoria Vernet Holmes (Helena Bonham Carter). While most girls her age would learn about embroidery and how to be a proper lady, instead, she learned about science, history, and fighting.

These lessons came to a halt when her mother suddenly disappeared on the morning of Enola’s sixteenth birthday. This strange disappearance brings Mycroft and Sherlock rushing home.

Mycroft decides to handle Enola while Sherlock tries to discover his mother’s whereabouts. With her unusual upbringing, Mycroft believes that finishing school is the best option for her and arranges for her to attend the school the next day.

She resolves to run away and find her mother by herself after hearing their decision. Though she initially embarks on her journey alone, she soon gains a companion, Viscount Tewksbury, Marquess of Basilwether (Louis Patridge). 

Both teens are dealing with their problems, Tewksbury is trying to understand who is trying to kill him, and Enola wants to find her mother. They partner together in an attempt to unravel their mysteries.

Controversy

The Arthur Conan Doyle Estate sued Netflix, Legendary Pictures, Penguin Random House, Nancy Springer, and others over Enola Holmes’ portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.

Glowing reviews and good publicity surround the movie, with only the lawsuit tainting its good name. 

The lawsuit comes from the family of the author of the original Sherlock Holmes books. The Estate claims that Enola Holmes used information not provided for public use in their representation of Sherlock.

In this movie, Henry Cavill played the fictional detective. Cavill, though tall and pale, does not have the other defining traits of Sherlock. 

Traditionally Sherlock Holmes is over six feet tall, thin, pale, grey-eyed, has a hook nose, and expresses few emotions. Most people picture the detective with a deerstalker hat, a pipe, trenchcoat, and a magnifying glass. (Photo courtesy of public domain).

Perhaps, the most damaging part of Cavill’s portrayal is that it includes an emotional Sherlock. The Estate might have let the other physical differences slide, but could not stand for a Sherlock with a contradictory personality in comparison to other depictions of the character.

The rights to this particular trait of the detective are not something that the Doyle Estate could let go because they own the rights to it. Over the years, most of the older stories are in the public domain, but the final ten writings were not. 

Sherlock only has emotions in the final ten stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle. With Sherlock Holmes’ feelings only shown in the privately-owned books, other people can not portray him as emotional.

When Enola Holmes did so anyways, the Estate decided to file a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement and trademark violations. However, it is unsure where the legal action will lead to now.

When asked about the lawsuit, Cavill did not have a firm opinion of the subject.

“I mean, honestly, I don’t have a take on it. It’s a character from a page which we worked out from the screenplay. The legal stuff is above my pay grade,” said Henry Cavill to GQ.

This ongoing legal dispute between the Doyle Estate and Netflix will most likely end with a settlement.

Review

Enola Holmes is a decent movie, but it would never be successful in theaters. It is a made-for-TV movie. Though the film is better than the average TV movie, and it is successfully creating a large fan base. 

The film’s success comes from its surprisingly entertaining plotline. Throughout the movie, I can see different characters struggle and see their actions to resolve those struggles.

In one scene I watched  Enola attempt to find her mother, and in the next one, her brothers discuss how to find Enola. By arranging the movie this way, the writers can present all of the characters’ perspectives and have different plot lines going on at the same time. 

I also appreciate the variety of personalities that the characters have. Each person depicted in the show is intriguing and has developed personalities that explain their actions.

For example, Enola is a very loyal and outgoing person, so when her mother goes missing, I understand why she would go after her. Tewksbury, on the other hand, is a quiet and outdoorsy person because of these traits, it makes sense that he would not want to become a Lord and deal with politics.

Each character has defining personality traits that explain their actions, even the villains. By writing each person like this, the writers were able to create more complex characters and stay away from stereotypical people. 

Good characters and a good plot can only do so much if the idea behind them is poor. Thankfully that is not the case with Enola Holmes. The idea of seeing the world of Sherlock Holmes from his sister’s perspective is very refreshing. 

Though refreshing, it is not exactly a new idea. The popular BBC show, Sherlock, also includes a sister, Eurus Holmes. Eurus and Enola share a few commonalities. Both have E names, similar appearances, and both are smarter than the Sherlock in their respective franchises. 

Despite being smarter than her well-known older brother, Enola’s mystery lacked the same sophistication that I have come to expect with movies relating to Holmes’s family. Most features related to the detective have complex mysteries that the viewers can never solve. Her problem is not like the standard Holmes’ mystery. It is a run of a mill mystery that I could guess the ending to.

Paired with this simple mystery is Enola’s constant fourth-wall-breaking. By breaking the fourth wall, or talking directly to the audience, the writers attempt to show Enola’s thoughts during different parts of the movie. Instead of being a great addition to the film, it ends up being irritating and tiresome. 

Regardless of the more negative aspect of the movie, Enola Holmes has good ratings and I truly enjoyed it. The online recommendation website, Rotten Tomatoes, gave the film a rating of 92 percent. The positive rating reflects the viewers’ overall feelings about the show. 

Enola Holmes is a well rounded and entertaining movie completely worth the two hours it takes to watch it. This movie is one of the best movies released on Netflix lately, and I recommend it.

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