Enola Holmes (Movie Review)
I DON’T KNOW if it’s because I haven’t spent much time watching movies in the last six months (having been otherwise engaged in reading old books or gorging on empty-calorie news), but I was particularly impressed by Enola Holmes, a movie based on more recent fiction stories about a much younger sister of the great sleuth Sherlock of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fame.
I was intrigued by the cast as it featured some heavies like Helena Bonham-Carter and Henry Cavil, but the lead actress, Millie Bobby Brown as Enola, was captivating. I expect she will do much more on the big screen. The theme follows a burgeoning trend I began posting about many years ago, namely stories that focus on female protagonists in roles that showcase a woman’s expanded choices to do or be (or not) whatever they choose–damn the censors .
The theme follows a burgeoning trend I began posting about many years ago, namely stories that focus on female protagonists in roles that showcase a woman’s expanded choices to do or be (or not) whatever they choose–damn the censors .
And merging with that theme is a kind of dramatic revisionism, a re-viewing of history with more (and more flattering and empowering) representation of subordinated groups i.e. women and racial, religious, ethnic, minorities, etc. Hamilton is a glaring contemporary example from theatre. Quentin Tarantino applied it (too gratuitously for my tastes) in at least three of his last four films (Inglourious Basterds, Django, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) where he posits a version of the past where justice was served. This dramatic revisionism is not new, but is more prevalent than ever in popular-culture storytelling. I noticed it in Perry Mason (which I reviewed) and also in the very newest Fargo (soon to be reviewed). There can be no doubt that history needs revision. The question is whether that revision should be left to Hollywood: while the best films are usually near the vanguard during periods of social change, the studios are always at the vanguard of profit-based motivations for more inclusive storytelling. Shifting cultural norms probably drive the cinematic sensitivities, however; while film and other forms of popular culture “persuade” social norms, there must be enough social acceptance of the new norms presented in order for a film (or book, game, etc.) to become part of popular culture in the first place.
The plot is energized when an eccentric mother played by Bonham-Carter up and leaves while Enola is only 16. It is a mystery as Enola‘s mother had immersed herself in her daughters upbringing and preparation for a world dominated by men in early 20th-century England.
So her first case as a budding Holmes detective is to find her mother. Meanwhile, in her mother’s absence, Enola’s oldest brother Mycroft is her legal ward, and he conspires to send her to a finishing school. Sherlock is more sympathetic, but watches with a sly approval as his young sibling’s rebellion leads thrust her into the larger events of her time, onto the trail of her mother and yet another mystery – all of which converge to satisfaction–and of course to a sequel.