“Perhaps, It’s a World that Needs Changing”

Mary Kelley , Scarlet Staff

A mixture of the quintessential Victorian girl coming of age film and an op-ed reflecting on ever-present straight white male privilege; this best describes the new remake of “Enola Holmes” based on the 2006 series of the same name by Nancy Springer. The series continues the long tradition of independent fiction based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes mysteries. 

The film itself focuses on Enola, the younger sister of well-known detective, Sherlock Holmes, as she is pushed headfirst into the world of a 16-year-old. Millie Bobby Brown portrays the titular lead, acting perfectly her age, with awkward hand touching and wiley, rebellious ways. Fiona Shaw, who portrayed the finishing school headmistress Miss Harrison in the film, had much to say about the young protagonist. “[Enola] is the necessary spirit of investigation, of not sitting down and just accepting the world as it has been told to you.” 

At its core, this film is a touching and inspiring coming of age story, with impressive combat scenes and hardly any romance. There is a cute young lord, who Enola feels called to protect against conspiracies, but he hardly inspires any butterflies and at this point in their relationship is a bit of a nuisance to the young revolutionary. Enola spends most of the movie looking for her beloved, albeit a little wacky, mother who has seemingly abandoned her daughter to become a suffragette, or perhaps a home-grown terrorist. More is revealed and Enola is thrown headfirst into a wild world of murdered lords, coded messages, and inequality, in other words: the world of British politics in the 1800s. 

Enola must navigate London more or less on her own, with her mother’s unorthodox teachings and her own wits to keep her afloat. Eudora Holmes brought to life by Helena Bonham Carter in the 2020 film, was not only mother to Enola, but to her two elder son’s detective Sherlock and misanthrope Mycroft. Eudora is bold, playing tennis in their family manor wreaking havoc on family heirlooms, and letting her home become an unrecognizable overgrown mess. The money her son’s had allotted her was put to use in ways other than hiring a governess, housekeeper, gardener, or even owning a carriage– much to the discontent and upset of her grown sons. 

Her infamous brother Sherlock is somewhat famous for abstaining from politics, preferring detective work, puzzle-solving, and the occasional opium-induced haze.

We have all been there, but unlike in his previous films, Sherlock is called out. After several instances of blatant sexism, though apparently appropriate behavior for a Victorian man, Sherlock is challenged by one of the BIPOC characters of the film. Badass tea shop owner/self-defense teacher/ woke suffragette Edith, portrayed by Susan Wokoma, immediately questions why Sherlock is able to have “no interest in politics.” It was “because [Sherlock] has no interest in changing a world that suits [him] so well.” She really just walked up to Arthur Connan Doyles’ prized creation and cut through his bullshit, weird hat, white guy detective act. 

Sherlock is only saved by his consistent anti-cop stance, pointing out Lestrade’s buffoonery each step of the way, and perhaps by his response to being told these truths through his actions later on in the film, and proposed five-movie franchise. The most touching detail is that not only does this film touch upon important themes of sexism, racism, classism, and the like, it also shows a beautiful mother and daughter relationship. In Victorian England emotions are taboo and yet these women are unafraid to embrace, to rely on each other. There is no better way to experience this story, fraught with authentic emotions, than through the narration Enola provides in the 2020 Netflix original. It is her own words which title this piece, her reaction when being told that there were certain standards a woman her age must uphold, that things are done “a certain way” no matter how painful or wrong that way may seem. A 16-year-old girl, learning that she can positively change the world, is a timeless, and quite topical, message.