Enola Holmes (4 stars)

Enola Holmes

Sherlock's teenage sister takes centre stage in a delightful adventure, starring Millie Bobby Brown

Brimming with mischief and combining period loveliness and contemporary ideas, Enola Holmes is the kind of polished, whole-family-pleasing entertainment that we see too seldom. It brings to screen Nancy Springer's YA literary creation – the teenage sister of Sherlock Holmes, who shares his talent for sleuthing – and, in a stroke of genius, casts the charismatic Millie Bobby Brown.

The 16-year-old showed her star potential in Stranger Things but it's lovely seeing her tackle something lighter, and what flair she has for the film's to-the-camera comedy. Also acting as producer here, Brown plays Enola, the 'wild child' daughter of a 'wild and dangerous woman' – according to her other brother Mycroft anyway – and the kind of cheeringly rebellious, gutsy protagonist it's easy to root for.

Helena Bonham Carter is Enola's firebrand mother, whose disappearance throws her daughter's charmed countryside existence into turmoil. Sam Claflin is enjoyably nasty as the bitter and cantankerous Mycroft, trying to send his ward Enola to a finishing school, while Henry Cavill makes a better Sherlock than he did Superman, puffing out his chest and turning a blind eye to his sister's plight until she chips away at the hard shell around his heart.

Raised to be independent, Enola is ferociously well-read, trained in combat but lacking in worldly skills, so, when she heads to London on her mother's trail, she's soon out of her depth. Things are further complicated by her entanglement with a runaway marquess, Viscount Tewksbury (Louis Partridge), a sweet and needy boy of her own age, who is about to be inducted into the House of Lords and has an assassin mysteriously pursuing him.

TV director Harry Bradbeer (an Emmy winner for his work on Fleabag) has a good crack at creating something more lusciously cinematic, as Enola's journey takes her from glorious greenery to the forbidding big city, via an exciting train chase. Indeed, it's a shame that such a ripping yarn won't benefit from the scope of a big screen as originally planned (a theatrical release by Warner Bros. was shelved, due to Covid-19 of course). The witty, winking screenplay comes courtesy of the ubiquitous Jack Thorne (His Dark Materials, The Aeronauts).

The backdrop of feminist fury and fear of social change adds meat, Daniel Pemberton's score contributes notes of Harry Potter-esque magical mystery, while the likes of Fiona Shaw, Adeel Akhtar, Susan Wokoma and Frances de la Tour pop up in a film that's cast to perfection. Enola Holmes zips along delightfully, despite the reasonably weighty runtime, mostly thanks to a heroine that you wouldn't mind meeting again. The result is a box fresh take on the jolly jape.

Available to watch on Netflix from Wed 23 Sep.

Enola Holmes

  • 4 stars
  • 2020
  • US
  • 2h 3min
  • 12
  • Directed by: Harry Bradbeer
  • Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter, Fiona Shaw, Sam Claflin, Susie Wokoma
  • UK release: 23 September 2020

Based on a young adult fiction series of detective novels, Enola Holmes is Sherlock's younger sister.