Millie Bobby Brown Is Sherlock’s Brilliant Younger Sister in First Enola Holmes Trailer
The first trailer for Enola Holmes gives us a peek into the action-packed, norms-defying world of Sherlock Holmes’ little sister.
Enola Holmes looks like a lot of fun when we need it most. The movie, headed to Netflix on September 23rd, stars Stranger Things’ breakout Millie Bobby Brown as the titular heroine. Based on a series of books by Nancy Springer, Enola Holmes follows a new Holmes for a new generation as she tries to discover what has become of her missing mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter). Along the way, Enola appears to be thwarting the efforts of her brothers Sherlock and Mycroft to send her to a strict finishing school, and while on her own, makes new friends and enemies—and a possible romantic connection with a floppy-haired young lord.
I first wrote about Enola Holmes back when the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle estate was suing the movie on the grounds that its depiction of a more emotional Sherlock Holmes was a later aspect of the character that fell under copyright. (I think this is ridiculous, for many reasons.) The glimpses we do see of Henry Cavill’s Sherlock here suggest he’s more amused and impressed by his sister’s behavior than perturbed like their older, stricter brother Mycroft (Sam Claflin).
According to production notes, Mycroft fills a bit of a villainous role in Enola—likely because he wants her to conform to “proper” standards for a young Victorian lady—and it seems like Sherlock may end up being more of an ally. No matter what resolution we get where the Holmes family is concerned, the casting is pitch-perfect. Brown brings a spirited energy to Enola, Cavill excels at being both wry and sympathetic, Claflin is a chameleon who can fit into any role, and Bonham Carter as an eccentric matriarch who defies expectations is a part that may as well have been written for her.
The rest of the cast is also fantastic, with Killing Eve’s Fiona Shaw playing the (no doubt terrifying) headmistress of Enola’s school, and a dazzling roster of talent that includes Adeel Akhtar (recently seen as Monsieur Thénardier in the BBC’s Les Miserables), Frances de la Tour (The History Boys), Louis Partridge as said floppy-haired aristocrat, Burn Gorman (Torchwood, Pacific Rim) probably playing a bad guy because he is good at such things, and Susan Wokoma (Year of the Rabbit) who appears to be testing Enola’s fighting skills and keeping an eye on her. The lovely diversity of representation drives home that all-white Victorian drama ensembles are as inaccurate as they are unnecessary.
Enola Holmes is putting many of the Sherlockian cinematic set pieces usually reserved for men into the more-than-capable hands of a young woman. Enola is seen boxing, wresting, proving herself to be a master of disguise, getting into shenanigans on a train, and, in early scenes with her mother, learning science, cryptology, fighting, and athletic feats.
We’ve not had nearly enough of this sort of thing, especially set in the Victorian era, and her association with the famous Holmes name only serves to ground viewers. This not a Sherlock Holmes story—it’s Enola’s, and her brother is a supporting character. The whole set-up here seems set to defy more traditional movie-making, with Enola breaking the 4th wall, Fleabag-style (a narrative device that appealed to screenwriter Jack Thorne). By sheer coincidence, Fleabag director Harry Bradbeer ended up directing this project, and we’ve seen how well he’s able to frame the inner lives of women.
I do wonder at why a film based on a series of books by a woman, starring and produced by Brown, and centered around the conflict of what patriarchal society demands of women versus their own desires was ultimately written by a man. But I’ll reserve judgment until I get to see Enola Holmes. I’m keen to return to the world of Sherlock Holmes, where everything old is new again.
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