A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Women and girls deserve autonomy over their own life choices and lifestyles. They can be as strong and clever as males. Friends and family help each other in times of trouble. Film is set in era shown to be ripe for progressive social reform (sometimes by radical means).
Positive Role Models
Enola models courage, intelligence, integrity. Her feminist mother has raised Enola outside of society's constrictions to be an intelligent, physically adept free thinker, but hasn't taught her how to interact with others and get by in society. Though Enola's name spells "Alone" backward and she has been taught that she doesn't need company because she has herself, she ultimately opts to put herself in harm's way to save a friend. She knows her mother wouldn't approve of the choice, nor does she necessarily approve of her mother's participation in a radical political movement. Intuitive Sherlock is impressed with Enola's skills, but conservative Mycroft finds her to be wild, dangerous, in need of "breaking" at a strict girls' boarding school. Main characters are White, but supporting cast has more diversity than is typical for Holmes stories set in the past.
Violence & Scariness
Mrs. Holmes teaches Enola martial arts and combat, which she uses on several occasions. Enola saves Lord Tewksbury from being thrown off a train, then the two teens jump off the moving train together. A man attacks Enola; they have a knock-down brawl that involves knives, explosives, Enola nearly drowning. The man returns in a climactic fight scene that involves (spoiler alert) Enola and Lord Tewksbury getting shot at and the man dying by blunt force to the head (complete with crunching noise). Scotland Yard inspector Lestrade sneaks into Enola's room; she hits him over the head with a teapot, but he still catches her. Mycroft makes Enola cry by shouting at her and taking all her money. School director slaps Enola across the cheek, keeps her in a locked room. Arguments.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Enola and Lord Tewksbury have an immediate attraction. She saves his life several times, and he saves hers back. They share a quiet moment together in her rented room; she's embarrassed by her undergarments hanging out to dry. He kisses her hand and wonders about their future. At one point, Enola is told that her breasts and hips need "amplification" (via her clothing/fashion).
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"Hell," "oh my God," "dear God."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Sherlock and Mycroft meet over drinks in a lounge.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Enola Holmes stars Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) and is based on the book series by Nancy Springer. It's lots of fun, but there's some potentially scary action and violence. Enola (Brown) regularly uses her martial arts and combat training to take down people attacking her, including some who wield weapons like knives and shotguns. (Potential spoiler alerts!) In one fight scene, she appears to have drowned but survives to blow up a building and escape harm. In another, her friend Lord Tewksbury (Louis Partridge) is shot in the chest. Teens escape an assassin by jumping off a train; in a climactic scene, a character dies via blunt force to the head, which includes a nasty crunching noise. Enola also smashes an adult over the head with a teapot, and an authority figure locks her in a room. Language is mild and includes "hell," "oh my God," and "dear God." Despite the intense moments, parents couldn't ask for a better role model for their tween and teen daughters than strong, independent Enola, who models courage, intelligence, and integrity through her actions. She has been raised outside of social constraints and taught to think and live for herself. She helps Tewksbury even though it means putting herself in danger. The two teens seem to share an attraction and the desire for a future together; at one point, he kisses her hand. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Fast-paced, clever, and hugely entertaining, this film will delight fans of Brown and surely bring her more followers thanks to this outstanding role. Brown has become a cultural icon of girl power: Girls everywhere wanted to be her Stranger Things character Eleven, and now they'll crave to be the fiercely independent, confident, wily Enola, too. Brown (who's also a producer on Enola Holmes) pairs off against a cast of established actors, including Bonham Carter and Cavill, and she fills nearly every scene with energy and intelligence in a role that's as physical as it is emotional. The technique of having her character conspiratorially break the fourth wall to talk directly to the camera (like a teen-friendly Fleabag) creates complicity with the viewer. Interestingly, that playful dialogue seems to come and go with her character's own confidence and fortune.
Sherlock fans may be reluctant to accept a younger and more forward-thinking sister who outsmarts the great detective. And history buffs may bristle at the imposition of some contemporary values on late 1800s-era London. But smashing historical constructions and patriarchal obstacles seems to be exactly the point. And, anyway, doesn't the magic of many movies lie precisely in the suspension of disbelief? Yes, Enola's regular combat conquests and speedy deductions are suspect. But really, who cares when a film is so well put together and just plain fun to watch? Considering that there are several books in the source series, here's hoping that Enola Holmes marks the start of an exciting new franchise.