Netflix’s newest mystery is a fresh take on the classic Sherlock Holmes stories.
It brings a feminist twist to a famously male-dominated narrative, showing us a new family member who forges her own path in life.
Enola Holmes is based on the first book in Nancy Springer’s series of the same name. Sherlock’s 16-year-old sister is played by Millie Bobby Brown, famous for her role as Eleven in Netflix’s Stranger Things. Brown is only 16 years old herself, but she gives Enola a maturity and complexity rarely seen in young characters.
This connects Enola to her brother Sherlock (Henry Cavill), whose personality has been shown in depth in various adaptations of the infamous character. In an arguably much-needed change of pace, Sherlock is seen on camera much less than in other adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works. This is because the youngest Holmes deserves all the attention this time around.
Enola investigates into her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham-Carter)’s disappearance, having to outsmart her brothers and avoid antagonists throughout her adventure. To find her mother, Enola has to follow clues that she left behind, which gives the feeling of a classic Holmes mystery.
The majority of the film deals with the sexism faced at the time. Enola has to dress as a boy in order to avoid confrontation, and says that she doesn’t know how to do traditional tasks such as embroidery like all girls do. This is because Eudoria refused to teach her daughter to be a stereotypical lady of the time, and taught her science and sport instead.
We are shown flashbacks of Eudoria raising Enola to be a critical thinker who is free to express herself as she chooses. This shapes Enola into the independent young girl who narrates the film. She consistently breaks the fourth wall and gives a deeper insight into her thought process, and proves from the start that she will not conform to societal norms.
Enola will likely become a source of inspiration for girls who are interested in this genre, but previously lacked a role model who represented them. She joins the line-up of heroic fictional ladies alongside famous names like Harry Potter‘s Hermione Granger and Game of Thrones‘s Arya Stark, who refuse to let society’s views on their gender and background define them.