Netflix movie will charm the pants off you

 

Scrappy, clever and gutsy, Enola Holmes knows how to have a hell of a lot more fun than big brother Sherlock.

And even better, she's out to change the world.

Netflix movie Enola Holmes, starring Millie Bobby Brown as the woman in question, is a gregarious adventure tale with sass and charm spilling out from the frame.

Enola is 16 years old and was raised by her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) not to make a marriage with skills of embroidery or corset-wearing. Rather, Enola's education has been in the sciences, history and self-defence.

After her mother vanishes on the morning of her birthday, brothers Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin) return to take charge. Well, Mycroft, the paragon of controlling patriarchy, takes charge of Enola as his ward.

The threat of Miss Harrison's (Fiona Shaw) finishing school is enough for Enola to leg it, disguised in boy's clothes and armed with her wits and the money left by her mother.

 

We know, Enola. The patriarchy are so baffling.
We know, Enola. The patriarchy are so baffling.

 

Crucial skills for any young woman
Crucial skills for any young woman

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Enola is determined to find Eudoria, who had been secretly plotting something with a cabal of other women. Before she can do that, her plans are waylaid when another runaway, Lord Viscount Tewksbury, Marquess of Basilwether (Louis Partridge) drops into her life, literally.

With bowler-hatted assassins and her brothers on the chase, a maybe-not-quite-useless boy and gunpowder stores drumming up the works, Enola has to keep one step ahead.

Enola Holmes is set against the political backdrop of the 1884 Reform Act, a bill which sought to expand voting rights in the UK (albeit only to men who met certain financial conditions) while Eudoria is clearly a suffragette.

The themes resonate in a year of voter suppression efforts in the upcoming US elections, the mess in Belarus and the rise of authoritarian nationalists.

The film cleverly weaves its central mystery around these world changing social movements, a battle for tradition and status quo versus the hunger for progress and fairness.

 

The Holmes clan
The Holmes clan


In that sense, Enola Holmes, even with its 19th century setting, is a modern story with a 21st century sensibility, embodied within Brown's plucky heroine who refuses to accept what's expected of her.

A thoroughly likeable character with a balance of courage, verve and emotional vulnerability, Enola frequently breaks the fourth wall to address the audiences, inviting us into her journey. And Brown has ample charisma to pull off a risky tactic.

Enola Holmes is well-paced, dynamically edited and its production values impress. It may stretch to one twist and 15 minutes too much, but it's winsome enough to not be too burdensome.

The story is adapted from The Enola Holmes Mysteries book series by Nancy Springer - and it's a good thing there are mysteries plural because this is a film that lends itself to welcome sequels.

Its easygoing and winning vibe is particularly suited to Netflix's low barrier to entry. While it was originally made for cinematic release, if this is the start of a Netflix franchise, you'll happily find yourself clicking on another instalment on a Sunday afternoon.

Rating: 3.5/5

Enola Holmes is on Netflix from Wednesday, September 23 from 5pm AEST

Share your movies and TV obsessions | @wenleima

Originally published as Netflix movie will charm the pants off you



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