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Movie Review: 'Enola Holmes' Is Familiar, But New

According to Guinness World Records, the literary character who’s been portrayed the most in film and TV—by far—is Sherlock Holmes. Well, I should say the human character, as Dracula actually has Holmes beat. But ol’ Sherlock has been portrayed more than 250 times by more than 75 actors, and those numbers are from eight years ago when Guinness made the pronouncement.


So really, all we need is yet another Sherlock Holmes adaptation. I say that a bit tongue-in-cheek, there are good reasons he’s so popular. But if we really want to do something new, while still indulging our Holmes addiction, what if we told the story of a character who’s Sherlock Holmes-adjacent? And not, like, Watson; that’s been done plenty on its own. What if we had a character who might appeal to new audiences, while solving brand-new mysteries all her own?


Yes, all her own. I’m speaking of Enola Holmes, the hero of Nancy Springer’s young adult novels and now the Netflix movie Enola Holmes. Enola is the younger sister of Sherlock and their brother Mycroft, and she’s been raised alone by their mother, who’s taught Enola to think, and fight, and imagine, and become all the things a good detective should be. Early in the film, Enola’s mother disappears, and the great mystery begins.


English actor Millie Bobby Brown is thoroughly charming as Enola, with the movie mercifully giving her far more to do than she had in her breakout role on TV’s "Stranger Things." She’s clever, and cheeky and expressive as she searches for her mother and tries to stay one step ahead of a surprisingly warm-hearted Sherlock and a decidedly cranky Mycroft. The film uses the now-common technique of our hero turning to address the camera as the action goes on around her, and even if that’s just a bit overused here, Brown makes it go down very easily.


Most importantly for this moment in our lives, Enola Holmes is just a pleasant time. Mysteries are fun, the stakes here are high but not anxiety-inducing, and Millie Bobby Brown shows she has a chance to be a real star.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.