WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHEN?: from 23//9/20
Stranger Things won our Best TV monsta in 2016 and its star Millie Bobby Brown convinces in the titular role as the 16-year-old younger sister of Sherlock Holmes not least because she is that age.
- Read on for reasons including why this film’s complicated women including Fiona Shaw and Frances de la Tour are at its heart
Enola Holmes is based on the first book of the series with the same name by Nancy Springer and is adapted by Jack Thorne (His Dark Materials, BBC1, The End Of History, Royal Court, and Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, Palace Theatre).
It is directed by Harry Bradbeer, who also worked on Fleabag and Killing Eve, and the former’s trademark breaking of the 4th wall as our heroine confides in the audiences is much in evidence here.
But there’s more to Bradbeer than that and he also injects proceedings with a little Monty Python humour as the action is punctuated by a series of animations and explainers that move everything along at lightening pace.
Enola Holmes is the story of a young woman’s growing up and her home school education at the hands of unconventional mother Eudoria (Bonham Carter having an absolute ball and stealing every one of the remarkably few scenes she is in). As Enola wakes on her 16th birthday in 1900, she discovers her mother has left her in mysterious circumstances. What is a budding young detective to do? She resolves to both find her and to discover why.
Along the way we discover what a fine young actress Brown has become as we marvel at the small details of the plot: that a corset, which appears designed to constrict, can have ‘a truer nature’, and that although Holmes has been taught ju-jitsu she repeatedly fails to master one of its more comical moves.
It’s the women in the piece as befits its theme, which we’ll let the amateur detectives among you unravel, which dominate. Killing Eve‘s Shaw (Bull In A China Shop, Dorfman, and film Colette) plays a violent finishing school headmistress diametrically opposed to Eudoria’s teachings. While Frances de la Tour (film The Lady In The Van and TV’s Vicious) makes every word count as The Dowager.
We also enjoyed Susie Wokoma’s (Teenage Dick, Donmar) tea shop owner and fight instructress as we learn more about the Lords’ vote on the Reform Bill and Holmes takes pity on ‘useless boy’ Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge succeeds in making fully-rounded a character who could have been little more than a cliche).
Enola Holmes does have some big and especially pertinent things to say about why politics matters little to the privileged which we shall signpost without hitting you over the head with, much in keeping with this hugely funny yet thoughtful romp and playful revision of history.
Stranger Things made Brown’s name and could have typecast her if she hadn’t shown here what an accomplished actress she is at mastering both the adventure and comedy genres which should ensure that we see her in many diverse films from now on and for years.
Millie bobby brown