Millie Bobby Brown couldn’t ask for a better star vehicle than Enola Holmes.
The plucky, fourth-wall-breaking adaptation of Nancy Springer’s novel plays to the many strengths of the “Stranger Things” actor and extends her range while portraying the eponymous teen sister of the famous Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin).
Desperate to solve the mystery of the disappearance of their mother (Helena Bonham Carter) and torpedo Mycroft’s plan of sending her to a stuffy girls’ school, Enola sets off to London via train. On board, she has a fun meet-cute with fellow semifugitive Lord Tewksbury (Louis Partridge, Paddington 2) and the first of several terrifying encounters with the henchman (an especially intimidating Burn Gorman) who’s out to kill the young nobleman.
Once in the big city (impressively recreated via sets and CGI), Enola investigates a series of clues left behind by her mother. Flashbacks of the two Holmes women partaking in joyful afternoons of cryptography and living-room tennis help justify the daring and occasionally death-defying lengths to which Enola will go on her quest.
Along the way, she checks in on Tewksbury and has her share of run-ins with the frustratingly humorous Mycroft and the wholly professional but increasingly impressed Sherlock, plus the kind of colorful characters one would expect in a Holmes mystery (regardless of which sibling is the protagonist).
Furthermore, the action sequences are deftly handled, and screenwriter Jack Thorne keeps the pace cooking, but the film’s true highlights are Enola’s cheeky direct addresses to the camera — a technique in which Harry Bradbeer is well-versed, having helmed every episode of “Fleabag.”
Though thoroughly lighthearted and raising little doubt that our heroine will succeed, Enola Holmes packs enough teen growing pains and believable emotions to make it more than a complete lark. All told, it’s an unexpected burst of glee at the tail-end of summer, and this cast and crew are more than welcome to reunite for more adventures.
Available on Netflix starting Sept. 23