Written by Charissa Roberson
The Netflix adaptation of Nancy Springer’s series “The Enola Holmes Mysteries,” starring Millie Bobby Brown, premiered on Sept. 23 to enthusiastic reviews.
Unlike the many Holmes adaptations that have preceded it, “Enola Holmes” focuses instead on the legendary detective’s younger sister — a smart, passionate and quirky girl who is more than capable of matching or even besting her older brother. The film follows Enola’s quest to find her missing mother, solve a mystery and advance women’s rights all at the same time.
Soon after its release, “Enola Holmes” became the most-watched film on Netflix. Critics praised the film for deftly portraying the Victorian England of Sherlock Holmes that fans love so much, while also pointing out the flaws of that world and the great detective himself. In the film, Enola has to fight to be respected—even by her own brother—and she must struggle to forge her own identity in a world that wants her to simply be a “lady” and stay out of the way.
Brown, who plays Enola Holmes, said that she had always wanted to star in a film about Holmes’ younger sister ever since she first read the book series (Deadline).
“[O]ne of the things that I loved about Enola, is when I was reading the script, it felt like I was reading myself,” Brown said. “…[S]he’s growing up in a crazy world around her, and I’m growing up in a crazy world around me, and it’s about how we’re finding ourselves” (Deadline).
The young actress bears a marked similarity to her on-screen character. Both Enola and Brown are young in age, but already possessed of the creativity, intelligence and determination to make their mark on the world. At 16 years old, Brown co-produced “Enola Homes” and was actually the first to pioneer the project. She collaborated with writer Jack Thorne and director Harry Bradbeer to bring the story to the screen.
“I was just struck by a kind of conviction and bravery,” Bradbeer said about Brown. “…I think that is one of the most important things in life, and it was very important in that character” (Deadline).
Despite its Victorian England setting, “Enola Holmes” contains remarkable relevance for today. The film teaches that if you want to the world to change, you have to step up and do something about it.
“For me, in the areas where I feel like I want to show my voice, I will do it,” Brown said. “I don’t want to sit here and listen … I want to go out there and help change it” (Cinema Blend).