Enola Holmes, by Albert W. Vogt III

It is not often that I start to fall asleep while watching a movie.  Oh, and by the way, if you have read my review of Enola Holmes 2, as it turns out I had not seen the first Enola Holmes (2020).  This became clear after a few minutes a watching it.  And as the minutes ticked away into the hours, I slowly got bored.  I could put forward any number of reasons for my weariness, most of them legitimate.  I would say all of them are sound, but some might look at aspects of my life and think I have it easy.  Whatever the case, my eyelids nearly sagged shut into slumber with about a half hour to go.  Carry on to understand why.

The title character (Millie Bobby Brown) in Enola Holmes is the younger sister to the famous detective Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and his older brother Mycroft Holmes (Sam Claflin).  While they have been off earning fame in fortune in the wake of the untimely death of their father, Enola has been raised on the family estate by their mother, Eudoria Holmes (Helena Bonham Carter).  As such, Enola has lived a comfortable if sheltered country life being taught by the doting and loving Eudoria, who has turned her daughter into a prodigy.  This is not simply in the thinky-thinky parts of her brain, but also teaching her martial arts, you know, because that was a thing in Victorian England.  The only thing that could disrupt their cozy arrangement is Eudoria’s sudden disappearance following a clandestine meeting of women upon which Enola accidentally stumbles.  This brings Mycroft and Sherlock to their ancestral home.  Mycroft promptly decides that the best thing for Enola, her being his ward, is for her to go to finishing school.  While this is arranged, Sherlock is to solve the case of their missing mother.  This is Enola’s objective, too, and she gets a head start on her famous detective brother by using clues Eudoria’s leaves only for her daughter.  With the obtaining of a disguise and a little misdirection, it is off to catch a train in another town and head to London.  While in her car, a figure spills out from a large piece of luggage stored on an overhead shelf.  This is the young Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), who is on the run from his domineering family.  It turns out that his grandmother the Dowager (Frances de la Tour) and his other relatives are not the only ones after him.  After leaving the compartment in order to maintain her low profile, she returns out of remorse for how she treated Lord Tewkesbury and finds him being attacked by a man called Linthorn (Burn Gorman).  Her intervention saves him for the moment, and they escape by jumping off the train and making their way to London on foot.  There they go their separate ways, and Enola recommences her search for her mother.  Using the wad of cash left her by Eudoria, Enola begins putting coded advertisements in the newspaper that she believes only she will notice.  In the meantime, the encryptions Enola finds among Eudoria’s effects lead her to a warehouse with explosives, apparently part of mom’s work with militant feminism.  Also on hand is Linthorn.  There is a scuffle from which she barely escapes, not to mention the resulting detonation.  The reappearance of the adversary from the train tells her that she instead needs to look after Lord Tewkesbury.  Once he is tracked down, she takes him to the small flat she had been renting for safe keeping.  Unfortunately, this is where Scotland Yard’s Inspector Lestrade (Adeel Akhtar), pressed by Mycroft to find Enola, catches the youngest Holmes.  As such, Enola is forced to go to the hated finishing school, and Lord Tewkesbury is returned to his family.  She is saved from this fate when he comes to rescue her from the school.  In the midst of these proceedings, she has deduced in true Holmes’ fashion that it is his uncle that has hired Linthorn to kill Lord Tewkesbury and inherit the trappings of the family’s vast estate for himself.  To get to the bottom of this issue, Enola and Lord Tewkesbury make their way to said estate but find it seemingly empty, save for Linthorn.  Another fight ensues, and Linthorn eventually falls in gruesome fashion.  He dies without revealing the person paying him despite Enola’s furious demands.  The matter is cleared up, though, when the Dowager enters the room and has her mustache twirling villain moment of revealing her grand designs.  It was she who gave Linthorn the awful task because she does not want to see the reform minded Lord Tewkesbury enter parliament’s House of Lords.  She even manages to shoot her grandson, though he survives having worn armor under his clothes.  Conveniently, this is when Inspector Lestrade and Sherlock arrive on the scene, taking away the Dowager.  With everything settled, the young (I cannot emphasize this enough) Lord Tewkesbury goes to his first day at parliament and is able to help with the passage of the reform bill.  Enola pledges to remain friends, too.  She also is on hand to overhear Sherlock getting wardship of her from Mycroft, so that is a plus, I guess.  Finally, she is reunited with Eudoria, who has been keeping an eye on her from a distance and is proud of what her daughter has become.  And what is that, you may ask?  A detective, of course, as we are told just before the credits roll.

There is a lot in Enola Holmes that does not make sense, but that is not my main concern.  There are also threads of the plot that go nowhere, but I am not too fussed about that, either.  Teenagers in parliament and a mentioned, but not followed through, army of feminist warriors is dumb and interesting in that order.  Still, these aspects do not appeal to my Catholic sensibilities.  What does interest me is Enola’s name.  Eudoria teaches her daughter self-reliance, so much so that her sobriquet spells “alone” backwards.  There is a danger in thinking you can do everything on your own, and it seems to be a character flaw of all the Holmes siblings.  To be charitable to the film, a part of Enola’s character arc is learning that she does need help at times.  Yet, there remains far too much independence for independence’s sake.  There is a saying about how God helps those who help themselves.  I have always had a problem with that phrase.  It is not one that is found in the Bible.  It also obfuscates the truth.  God helps everyone regardless of ability.  Our problem as a society is that we have forgotten what that looks like in application.  We begin by congratulating ourselves when we accomplish something, which is understandable, but do not remember to give thanks to He who puts us here in the first place, if nothing else.  At any rate, at least the movie, if absurd at times, teaches a lesson in this regard.

I am guessing that Enola Holmes is meant to be the beginning of a series of films about a character never penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  This kind of bums me out because that means Eurus Holmes (Sian Brooke), the sister who appears in the final season of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) Sherlock (2010-2017), is also made up.  I love that show.  I do not much care for the Enola Holmes movies, though there is nothing too wrong them for most audiences.


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