Enola Holmes Film Review


Alexandra Risi

The movie Enola Holmes came out about two months ago, and it is a beautifully crafted movie that has a lot to unpack. The story follows a young girl named Enola, who just happens to be famous detective Sherlock Holmes’ little sister. She was raised by her mother her entire life, and given a very different education compared to most girls during this time period. On her sixteenth birthday, Enola’s mother goes missing, and Enola must find her missing mother on her own, since her brothers want to send her away to a boarding school. While on her journey, she meets a runaway, Tewkesbury, who was supposed to be a lord but wants to escape that lifestyle. There are also multiple people coming after Tewkesbury, and Enola decides that she will figure out the real reason behind this, as well as solve the many clues that her mother has left behind so they can be reunited. 

To start off, I’ll talk about the characters in the film. Overall, the main characters showed great development, and learned key aspects of life throughout the film. Enola, on one hand, started off as a stubborn young girl who knew nothing of the outside world, but as she progressed on her journey, she was able to learn lots about the way the world works, and her part in it. Speaking of parts, Enola played a key role in empowering women throughout this movie. Although it was hinted that Enola and Tewkesbury had feelings for each other, she didn’t end up with a male companion at the end of the movie. This was refreshing to see, since most female characters end up with a husband/boyfriend at the end of every story. By not ending up with a man, audiences can see how Enola is her own independent character, and doesn’t need male validation in order to be content. Enola is not like most girls during this time, and shows the audience that you do not have to fit the narrative that society believes you should follow. This is also reflected in Enola’s education, since her mother never taught her the common housework that girls were normally expected to know, but rather educated her on the great books that had been written, and how to properly fight. At the end of the movie, Enola ends up working alongside her brother, and the fact that she is able to solve the case quicker than he can shows how women are just as smart as men, and can use their wits in creative ways. Regarding Sherlock, although he wasn’t the main character in the movie, audiences were able to see him change in many ways. He and Enola had a conversation in the beginning of the movie, when he first arrived home. She questioned why he never visited, and Sherlock never gave a direct answer. Throughout the course of the movie,  we see he and Enola grow closer, and Sherlock even begins to take responsibility for his sister. Additionally, the continuous use of riddles in the story connected to Sherlock, and showed how similar him and his sister really are. Mycroft, Enola’s second brother, on the other hand, has very little change for most of the movie. He stays the token villain, and appears to be someone who will fight Enola every step of the way. At the end, he doesn’t seem to mind Enola’s lifestyle, though, which shows that he has softened a bit, and won’t be giving her such a hard time. 

Moving away from the individual characters, I wanted to discuss the atmosphere of the movie, since the movie has political undertones. Girls during this era were mostly thought to only be good for housework and raising children, which is demonstrated by the multiple comments passed by major characters. Additionally, when Enola is sent away to boarding school for a short period of time, she is simply taught cleaning and cooking skills, and how to look like a proper lady. This connects to the reform bill, which holds major importance in the plot of the story.This bill is something that will make the ideals in England more progressive, and it is hinted that this is the bill that will give women the right to vote.  The reason Tewkesbury ran away from home is that he doesn’t want to become a lord or vote in regards to the reform bill. The sense of equality among all people is threatening to Tewkesbury’s grandmother, so she tries to have him killed. The issue of class and elitist ideals in the story speaks volumes to the current political environment in the world, since some still have classist ideas. Ultimately, Tewkesbury does end up becoming a lord, and is able to pass the reform bill. Still, the idea that people will do whatever they have to in order to make things go their way is a prominent trait in society, and is reflected in many political actions today.

In a lighter tone, I wanted to briefly discuss the symbolism in the movie, as well as setting and costumes. The setting of this movie was magical, and almost every scene had a brilliant, well thought-out setting. The setting and costumes reflected the time period. The girls wore much more modest clothes, and it was frowned upon when Enola didn’t have a hat and gloves on when she arrived at the train station. The setting and costumes also play a role in many of the symbols in the story. When Enola is with Tewkesbury, the setting is much more sunny and bright, with lots of nature. This shows how he is able to brighten her spirit, and adds a new childish fun to her life. From what we saw, Enola didn’t really have interactions with a lot of people her age growing up, so Tewkesbury was a contemporary.  

Overall, I thought Enola Holmes was a very interesting movie, and it was quite well put-together. It showed the role of females in society at the time, and how people of power will go to any lengths in order to keep that power, that still rings true today. The settings and costumes tied in well with the movie, and acted as an outlet for much of the symbolism. The plot of the movie was interesting throughout, and kept the audience drawn in. The characters were likeable, and showed development in certain places which tied into the themes of the movie. I had little to no criticisms of it, and truly enjoyed the entire film.