Official release poster
|Directed by||Harry Bradbeer|
|Screenplay by||Jack Thorne|
|Based on||The Enola Holmes Mysteries: The Case of the Missing Marquess|
by Nancy Springer
|Music by||Daniel Pemberton|
|Edited by||Adam Bosman|
Enola Holmes is a 2020 mystery film based on the first book in the series of the same name by Nancy Springer. The story is about the teenage sister of the already-famous Sherlock Holmes, who goes to London in search of her mother who has disappeared. The film is directed by Harry Bradbeer, from a screenplay by Jack Thorne. Millie Bobby Brown stars as the title character, while also serving as a producer on the film. Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Adeel Akhtar, Fiona Shaw, Frances de la Tour, Louis Partridge, Susie Wokoma and Helena Bonham Carter appear in supporting roles.
Originally planned for a theatrical release by Warner Bros. Pictures, the distribution rights to the film were sold to Netflix due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Enola Holmes was released on September 23, 2020. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised Brown's performance.
Enola Holmes is the youngest sibling in the famous Holmes family. She is extremely intelligent, observant, and insightful, and defies the social norms for women of the time. Her mother, Eudoria, has taught her everything from chess to jujitsu and encouraged her to be a strong-willed and independent thinking young woman.
On the day of her sixteenth birthday, Enola awakens to find that her mother has disappeared, leaving behind only some birthday gifts. She rushes to the train station to meet her brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock, who fail to recognize her at first, not having seen her in many years. Sherlock finds her to be an intelligent girl, whereas Mycroft finds her troublesome. As her legal guardian, Mycroft intends to send her away to a finishing school run by the stern Miss Harrison. The flowers left by her mother reveal secret messages and lead to hidden money, which Enola uses to escape disguised as a boy. On the train, she finds the young Viscount Tewkesbury hidden in a travel bag. She thinks he is a nincompoop but warns him that a man in a brown bowler hat (named Linthorn) is on the train searching for him. They jump off the train to escape. Neither having any food, Tewkesbury forages for edible plants. They travel to London, where they part ways.
Disguised as a proper Victorian lady, she continues to trace Eudoria and leaves cryptic messages in the newspaper personal advertisements. Enola discovers pamphlets and a safehouse containing explosives and learns that Eudoria is part of a radical group of suffragettes. She is attacked by Linthorn, who tortures her for information about Tewkesbury, attempting to drown her. They fight, but she is able to ignite the explosives and escape. Enola decides to pause the search for her mother and instead find Tewkesbury again to save him because he is not capable of defending himself. Enola visits the Tewkesbury estate at Basilwether Hall to learn more. Mycroft has Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard search for Enola.
Enola finds Tewkesbury selling flowers in Covent Garden and warns him of the danger. She helps him escape but is caught by Lestrade and imprisoned in Miss Harrison's finishing school by Mycroft. Sherlock visits her and admits he is impressed by her detective work. Tewkesbury sneaks into the school, and they escape together, stealing Miss Harrison's motor car. They reach a fork in the road and, rather than returning to London, Enola decides they must go to Basilwether Hall and face Tewkesbury's uncle, who she has deduced was trying to kill him. The estate is seemingly deserted, but Linthorn ambushes them, firing a shotgun. Enola trips him using a jujitsu move, causing a fatal head injury. Tewkesbury's grandmother is revealed as the real villain; a traditionalist, she did not want him to take his father's place in the House of Lords and vote for the Reform Bill. She shoots her grandson in the chest, but he survives thanks to a plate of armor he had hidden under his clothes. Sherlock arrives at Scotland Yard and Lestrade asks him two questions: first, how he managed to solve the case, and second, how his sister solved it first.
Enola finds and deciphers a message in a newspaper but deduces that it was not sent by her mother. At the meeting point, Sherlock and Mycroft discuss Enola, and Sherlock suggests becoming her guardian. They decide to leave, and Sherlock notices a clue, but chooses not to look for Enola. All the while Enola has been watching disguised as a newsboy. Returning to her lodgings, Enola finds her mother waiting there. They embrace, and Eudoria explains why she had to leave, and why she must leave again, but she is impressed by what Enola has become. Enola has found her freedom and her purpose—she is a detective and a finder of lost souls.
By February 2019, a film adaptation of the Nancy Springer book series The Enola Holmes Mysteries was in development at Legendary Pictures, with Millie Bobby Brown producing and starring in the title role and Harry Bradbeer set to direct. Brown had read the books with her older sister Paige and immediately wanted to play the role of Enola, but wasn't yet old enough to play the character. She later told her father they should make it into a film and partnered with Legendary Pictures, the same company she had previously worked with on Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Brown and Bradbeer discussed the film and wanted energy, emotion and eccentricity as key elements of the film. Brown discussed with writer Jack Thorne how she wanted to break the fourth wall. Bradbeer was enthusiastic about the script as it combined his interest in stories about "dysfunctional families coming to terms with each other" with his love of Sherlock Holmes. Brown took the opportunity to improvise, something she would not do on Stranger Things, which is heavily scripted and because the character of Enola Holmes allowed for it. Capturing those moments and keeping up with Brown proved challenging for the focus puller.
In June, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter, Adeel Akhtar and Fiona Shaw joined the cast, with Sam Claflin, Louis Partridge, Susie Wokoma and Burn Gorman joining in July as filming began in London. Railway scenes were filmed in Worcestershire at Arley railway station, Kidderminster Town railway station and Victoria Bridge on the Severn Valley Railway. The Holmes family residence Ferndell Hall was filmed at Benthall Hall in Shropshire. Bethnall Hall had not previously been used as a filming location, and the production design team received great help from the head groundskeeper who allowed the place to become overgrown to achieve the look they needed. Interiors were shot at West Horsley Place in Surrey. False walls were put up and inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement they included plant motifs in the decorations and period wallpaper. The East End and Limehouse Lane locations were created in the among outbuildings at Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire. The scene where Sherlock and Mycroft try to meet Enola, was filmed at Drum Court within HM Treasury Buildings in Westminster.
Consolata Boyle was responsible for creating the costumes. Boyle and her team custom-designed, dyed and made the costumes for the main cast and background actors. Approximately thirty costumes were created for Enola, and costumes such as the red powderpuff dress had to be repeated several more times because of the physicality of the role and any damage that might occur during fight scenes. The powderpuff dress was based on theatrical costumes of the period, and Boyle wanted to use red, the color of courage. Boyle's favorite was Enola's final dress, it used the same shape as the first dress Enola wore while riding the bicycle bringing the costumes back full circle, but also the natural untreated silk used in the final dress has no strong color and "it allows for anything to happen next." The colors violet, green and ivory were associated with the suffragette movement so Boyle consciously made use of those colors in the costumes.
The Conan Doyle Estate filed a lawsuit against Netflix over the film, claiming it violates copyright by depicting Sherlock Holmes as having emotions. They argue this aspect of the character does not fall under the public domain as he was only described as having emotions in stories published between 1923 and 1927, and the copyright for the stories published in that period still have not expired under copyright law in the United States. Cavill said that his portrayal of Sherlock "a lot more emotional to begin with, so we pared it back, and we said, 'alright, let's not make it too emotional'." On the lawsuit he said "It's a character from a page which we worked out from the screenplay. The legal stuff is above my pay grade."
In July 2019, Daniel Pemberton was announced as composer of the film's score. The soundtrack was released on September 18, 2020. Pemberton described it as "unashamedly melodic and emotional orchestral music" with some "messy quirky oddness thrown in as well".
In April 2020, Netflix acquired distribution rights to the film, as opposed to a theatrical release by Warner Bros. Pictures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film was released on September 23, 2020.
To promote the film in the United Kingdom, Netflix installed a series of statues of famous sisters next to existing statues of their famous brothers. They also released a free play at home adventure game in collaboration with Escape Hunt UK called An Enola Holmes Adventure.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 90% based on 162 reviews, with an average rating of 7.02/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Enola Holmes brings a breath of fresh air to Baker Street – and leaves plenty of room for Millie Bobby Brown to put her effervescent stamp on a franchise in waiting." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 68 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Peter Debruge of Variety called the film an "entertaining franchise starter" and praised Brown's performance, stating that "[her] acting style recalls the effusive spontaneity Keira Knightley brought to Pride and Prejudice, shattering the straitlaced propriety of so many Jane Austen adaptations before it." Debruge found the film "more tasteful in its high-energy storytelling than Guy Ritchie's recent Sherlock Holmes movies, and considerably more fun than 's Nancy Drew reboot." John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review and wrote: "It successfully imagines a place for its heroine in Holmes' world, then convinces young viewers that Enola needn't be constrained by that world's borders." Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post wrote: "Enola Holmes offers brisk and exuberant escape from the heaviness of modern times, with its leading actress lending her own appealing touches to the journey. When the game is afoot, she's more than capable, not just of keeping up, but winning the day." Ella Kemp of Empire magazine wrote: "Well-intentioned if sometimes lacking in subtlety, Enola Holmes offers a fine, spirited reminder that a traditional story can always be retold – although it might need more refined teachings on feminism next time." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave a mixed review, saying: "It all rattles along amiably enough. Enola Holmes is the kind of all-star production that might once have been made by the BBC" but had some criticism for the mystery elements of the story "there should have been more specifically ingenious deducting and solving from Enola – codebreaking isn't the same thing."
In a negative review, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: "A bright young actress, a movie-star actor and a potentially interesting concept gets smothered in 128 minutes of colorful, empty nonsense."
In September 2020, producer and star Millie Bobby Brown and director Harry Bradbeer acknowledged their intentions to develop a sequel. Brown thought only about making the first film but loved playing the character and said it would be a dream to do it again.
Having Superman and Eleven as my younger siblings made me feel slightly inferior, so that added to the flavour of the character, if anything.
I did about four or five auditions.
Oh, yeah, I'll just do one movie
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