Although Enola Holmes has been one of the only films released and advertised in the tragic year of 2020, it's one of the most charismatic, witty, and powerful movies I have seen since Bohemian Rhapsody in 2018. The script brought Enola from page to screen, the fast-paced plot gripped me from the start, and the hidden messages and symbols throughout were heart-warming, inspiring, and empowering. If you're looking for a period piece with a kick-ass protagonist who isn't afraid to go against the grain; a plot that would entertain even Sherlock, and a world where gender roles are flipped in a male-dominated society, then Enola Holmes is the one for you! Here's why...
Now, where to begin...
The Welcoming Fourth Wall Break
Enola immediately invites the audience into her world with the clever fourth wall break that continues for the entirety of the film. She gives us information about her life, she asks us for advice, and she looks to us for support. However, as Enola's mother's mysterious disappearance is later revealed to be connected with the suffragettes, this fourth wall break could symbolise something more profound. In Enola's world, somewhere in the early 20th century, women are restricted in every possible way, but Enola Holmes is about choosing your own path, independence, and freedom. With this in mind, the fourth wall break may symbolise Enola breaking free from a patriarchal society. The screen may act as the cage that keeps her trapped, but she breaks through that to communicate her independent nature. This idea may not have been the intention, but I like to think it works!
Mother and Daughter
We learn early on in the film that Enola's father died when she was young, and her brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock...yes, the famous detective, moved out soon after, so Enola had only really been brought up by her mother. Although her father's death and her desire for her brothers' love is tragic, the powerful relationship and connection between Enola and her mother show that women are more than capable of raising a child alone if they find themselves in that position. That doesn't mean to say that children don't need their fathers or brothers; it just illustrates that a girl can grow up and flourish just as well with only a mother's influence.
Female empowerment is all about choice in some respects; the choice to look, be, and live how they wish without judgement, discrimination and prejudice; and Enola Holmes shows a woman's right to choose despite living in a restrictive society. Enola chooses to leave on her own; she chooses to pretend to be a boy; she chooses to wear a corset and become something unexpected; she chooses to part from Tewkesbury, and no one told her she needed a man to live a life worth living. She decided everything as a young woman should, and she made her own way.
Stereotypically, women were taught about flowers and herbs, how to embroider, and how to be the lady of the house. On the other hand, men were generally given an education, taught to work, and how to fight and protect. However, these roles were switched when the narrative focused on Enola and Tewkesbury. Enola hadn't been taught to embroider, instead, her mother made her read every book in the library, and she had been taught to watch, listen, and defend.
When Enola was attacked by Linthorn outside Limehouse, she could pack a punch and hold her own. In contrast, Tewkesbury knew everything about flowers and herbs, but he didn't know a kick from a punch; Enola had to divert her plans to rescue him because she knew he couldn't save himself. Not only could Enola hold her own, but she could also support someone else: a man!
Although I adore cliché stories where the female character is saved by the strong male character, it's a nice change to have these roles switched!
Purchase Enola Holmes Today!
If you like the sound of Enola Holmes, there are a couple of places you can watch and purchase the movie and novel.
As Enola Holmes is a Netflix film, Netflix is the only place you will be able to watch it at the moment, so head on over and prepare to be amazed!
To many people's surprise, Enola Holmes is also a book as well as a film, and can be purchased at Waterstones online! Click here to find out more!
If you don't have a Waterstones account and registering is too much of a faff for one book, Amazon also has a copy of Enola Holmes. Click here to purchase from Amazon!