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Over the past few years, Netflix has proven itself as a force in the film world. The streaming service puts out a steadily stream of movie content, with releases like Marriage Story getting Award attention. One of the new releases is Harry Bradbeer's mystery Enola Holmes starring Stranger Things breakout Millie Bobby Brown alongside Henry Cavill and Helena Bonham Carter. And now we can see how critics are taking the new releases, as reviews for Elona Holmes have begun to come in.
Millie Bobby Brown has a ton of fans right now, with her gorgeous performance as Eleven in Stranger Things has given her the ability to work on major film projects. Elona Holmes is a bonafide star vehicle for the young actress, as well as another collaboration with Netflix. NPR's review from Glen Weldon praises the performance of Millie Bobby Brown, saying:
The bright, breezy Netflix film Enola Holmes, which is based on a series of YA novels by Nancy Springer, benefits hugely from Brown's lively, intelligent and charming performance. She's so good here that even the character's tendency to turn to the camera and address the audience — which she does a great deal (seriously, this film has more asides than an adodecahedron) — never gets wearying. You even start to find yourself looking forward to them, if you can imagine.
Leading a movie is challenging for any actor, and Millie Bobby Brown's Enola Holmes performance also required her to frequently break the fourth wall and narrate. And while this is a bold choice that doesn't always pay off, it sounds like she really rises to the occasion. Plus, she's paired with a strong supporting cast to work with.
At this point, Sherlock Holmes is a tried-and-true property, one as ripe for franchise potential as a superhero or a Jedi. But Enola Holmes largely sidesteps all that, its heroine and plot knitted up in feminism and the tough choices women have made throughout history to claim to independence.
Of course, Enola Holmes hasn't been without some criticism from reviews out there. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw felt that Harry Bradbeer's new Netflix release was lacking one key aspect of the property: the title character solving mysteries and problems. He explained this gripe with:
Brown has a nice, easygoing way with the material, cheekily outpacing her famous brother Sherlock here and there and often doing fourth-wall breaks to smirk at the audience, and I loved Miss Harrison’s steampunky motor car. But there should have been more specifically ingenious deducting and solving from Enola – codebreaking isn’t the same thing. So … is Moriarty’s super-evil kid sister on the way?
I smell a sequel. After all, Netflix has starting producing bonafide franchises on the streaming service. We'll just have to see of Enola Holmes is popular enough to get this treatment. The Associated Press' Lindsey Bahr addressed this possibility, while also taking umbrage with some of the writing and lack of a female voice. She said,
The biggest knock against Enola Holmes is it feels like it should or could have been a series. It’s very long and even this first story feels naturally episodic as she goes back and forth between searching for her mother and helping Tewskbury. The second is that the screenplay is only credited to Jack Thorne and this script could have benefitted from a woman’s involvement. Its feminist touchstones veer on cliché.
By contrast some critics seemed to find Enola Holmes' messaging more empowering. THR's review by John DeFore praised both Millie Bobby Brown's performance, and how the title character was brought into the pre-existing universe that fans know and love. As he explained,
Adapting the first of Springer's books as the origin tale in what's surely intended to be a series of Netflix movies, Harry Bradbeer's Enola Holmes makes a fine showcase for Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown, who gets to drop the layers of anxiety and trauma that make that show's El such a compelling character. While no one will ever accuse the picture of overestimating its viewers' intelligence — Jack Thorne's script rarely misses the chance to drive a moral point home with one more pound to the head of the nail — it successfully imagines a place for its heroine in Holmes' world, then convinces young viewers that Enola needn't be constrained by that world's borders.
Here’s a Victorian movie in which we never once hear the sound of a teacup rattling. Rather, we’re treated to a smorgasbord of door bashing, car crashing and head smashing — not to mention a warehouse full of explosives flashing the most spectacular fireworks show London has seen to that point. Despite making room for such bombast, Enola Holmes remains tamer and more tasteful in its high-energy storytelling than Guy Ritchie’s recent Sherlock Holmes movies, and considerably more fun than last year’s Nancy Drew reboot.
We'll just have to see how Netflix subscribers around the world take to Enola Holmes. While the critical response was largely positive, it's more than possible that there will be a discrepancy with audience response. Moviegoers can judge for themselves, as the movie is now streaming in its entirety, rather than waiting for a weekend release.
Enola Holmes is streaming now on Netflix. Be sure to check out our 2020 release list to plan your next movie experience.