[Screen It]


(2020) (Millie Bobbie Brown, Louis Partridge) (PG-13)

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Action/Adventure: Using all of the wisdom and skills she learned growing up during the late 1800s and sharing her famous brother's sleuthing abilities, a sixteen-year-old sets out to find her missing mother while also helping save a runaway nobleman.

It's 1900 and Enola Holmes (MILLIE BOBBY BROWN) has just turned sixteen. With her older brothers Sherlock (HENRY CAVILL) and Mycroft (SAM CLAFLIN) having left home not long after their father's death when Enola was very young, the teen has been raised by her mother, Eudoria (HELENA BONHAM CARTER), not to fit into the norms of British society but instead to be a young woman who's independent, smart, caring, curious and capable of defending herself.

But then one day her mother simply vanishes, and with her brothers showing up to check on things, the stuffy Mycroft views Enola as wild and unrefined. And now that she's his ward, he orders that she be sent off to Miss Harrison (FIONA SHAW) and her refining school for young women to learn how to be a proper future wife and mother. Enola wants no part of that, and having similar sleuthing abilities like Sherlock, she escapes and sets off for London to try to find her mom.

On the train there, she meets Viscount Tewkesbury (LOUIS PARTRIDGE), the Marquess of Basilwether, who's similarly running away from home and the life that his mother, uncle, and his grandmother, The Dowager (FRANCES DE LA TOUR), want for him. Enola wants no part of dealing with that, but ends up saving him from Linthorn (BURN GORMAN), a man initially believed to be there just to return the young man but instead is out to murder him.

Going their separate ways once in London, Enola begins her search and meets one of her mom's associates, Edith (SUSAN WOKOMA), and must not only elude Inspector Lestrade (ADEEL AKHTAR) from Scotland Yard who Mycroft has hired to find her, but also a violent encounter with Linthorn. Realizing she must now find and rescue Tewkesbury while still searching for her mom, Enola puts to use all of the training and smarts her mother instilled in her.

OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10

Just like certain people you meet in real life, some entertainment-based performers come along who undeniably possess a certain "it" factor that simply makes them pop off the screen or stage. That's a quality that's sometimes hard to explain in terms of what that actually means -- as well as what constitutes it -- but it's never hard to recognize and a result you can't keep your eyes off of them.

Millie Bobby Brown is one such person blessed with that magic. She shot to fame in Netflix's science-fiction horror series "Stranger Things" and had a smaller part in her big-screen debut in 2019's "Godzilla: King of the Monsters." But she's really going to garner attention as the charismatic title character in the highly enjoyable and fun "Enola Holmes."

Although the film definitely has a Nancy Drew vibe to it -- if that young female detective was operating in turn of 20th century England -- it's actually based on the young adult fiction series "The Enola Holmes Mysteries" by novelist Nancy Springer.

While you might not be familiar with those works, you've certainly heard of Enola's brother, Sherlock, and Springer's addition to the Baker Street canon was a fun and creative spin on the legendary character who's been portrayed in books, plays, TV shows, movies and more for more than a century.

That fun and creativity translate well into this handsomely produced Netflix movie that -- should audiences be receptive and they probably will, especially among girls -- kick start a welcome franchise. Written by Jack Thorne and directed by Harry Bradbeer, the film puts its cheeky "let's have some fun" demeanor on display right from the get-go as 16-year-old Eleanor (Brown) breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the viewer about her life so far.

We learn that her father passed when she was young and her older brothers, Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and Sherlock (a fabulous Henry Cavill), moved out not long after that, leaving her alone with her widowed mother (Helena Bonham Carter). Enola informs us that her name spelled backward is "alone" and thanks to her mother's training -- in all things intellectual, physical, and more -- she's an expert in ciphering, something that comes in handy when her mom suddenly disappears without a trace.

Or so any normal teen might believe, but with that training and an inherent sleuthing gene she shares with her older brother, she figures out cryptic clues her mom left her that might provide the necessary why/where/what answers. So, avoiding her older brother's wishes that she attend a refining school run by Miss Harrison (Fiona Shaw), Enola flees from home and ends up running into another teen on a train who's doing the same.

He's Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), the Marquess of Basilwether and he similarly doesn't want the life parts of his family want him to lead. Oh, and there's a mysterious fellow who initially seems present just to round up the boy but really wants him dead. So, it's up to Enola to save him and find her mother, all while various obstacles and complications arise.

Brown is simply magnificent in the part -- charismatic, assured, vulnerable, and simply adorable to the point that you can't wait to see her reprise the role. Her tomboyish to potential romantic awakening chemistry with Partridge is spot on, and the rest of the performances are good. Tech credits are excellent, with Daniel Pemberton's score and Giles Nuttgens' cinematography standing out.

Going into viewing the film in a funk due to some personal "why can't people do their job" issues, the pic lifted me out of that thanks to all involved doing theirs in excellent ways. All of which results in a fun time watching the character played by our latest "it" performer do her sleuthing to solve the matters at hand. You certainly won't need a detective to find the fun in watching this highly entertaining film and thus "Enola Holmes" rates as a 7 out of 10.

Reviewed September 22, 2020 / Posted September 23, 2020

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