(Credit: Netflix)

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‘Enola Holmes 2’: Sherlock overshadows Enola yet again!

'Enola Holmes 2' - Harry Bradbeer
7.5

Based on Nancy Springer’s fictional young-adult novels, the Enola Holmes franchise has gathered quite the fan following if one has to go by the massive crowd at the premiere event in Paris Theater in New York City. Or their unwavering patience as they waited for nearly three hours outside the event. Or the deafening screams throughout some crucial moments during the film screening. Or the sheer excitement at seeing Henry Cavill in a grey suit. All for Enola Holmes 2, which carried forth the legacy of the first film.

However, subconsciously, the film lets Sherlock Holmes overshadow his younger sister, Enola. Again.

Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Helena Bonham Carter, David Thewlis, Louise Partridge, Hannah Dodd, Susan Wokoma and  Sharon Duncan-Brewster, among others, Enola Holmes 2 is everything you would imagine it to be. Based on Nancy Springer’s eponymous young-adult novel series, the film places Brown as the witty and ditzy titular character at the centre as she desperately tries to escape her famous detective brother’s shadows and carve a legacy of her own.

Set in Victorian England with wonderful sets that exactly mirror the images of sooty 1880s London, the film is a family delight. Following her successful stint in the first film, Enola sets out to be a detective and hone her brain muscles by setting up a detective agency. However, it all falls apart when gender stereotypes and her brother’s achievements lead to people doubting her skills. When she is on the verge of giving up, a young matchstick-maker comes to her doorstep with a simple plea to find her missing sister.

This unravels the classic whodunit element of the plot that sends Enola down dangerous paths. From a corrupt police superintendent to bloody murders, the second film is darker than the first, with Enola being way more mature yet empathetic. However, her achievements are overpowered by Sherlock’s story despite the latter being less heavy in comparison.

Brown is brilliant as Enola. She brings a certain charm and spunk to the character, who oscillates from being a nonchalant woman eager to prove her worth to one who blushes furiously while linking arms with her young lover, the famous Lord Tewkesbury. Even in her hilarious fourth-wall-breaking scenes, Brown is more charming than ever. She deftly brings out the desperation of an independent woman striving for equality in a world that tries to bring her down. She rejects help from her male counterparts and treads dangerous waters to establish her worth. Even at her worst, one cannot help but love Enola Holmes.

However, Cavill’s Sherlock Holmes gains a lot more attention. His case is related to a money laundering scandal that is intricately related to Enola’s case. It also brings Sherlock to face his ultimate nemesis, Moriarty. Watch out for the brilliant twist on this anti-hero that filmmaker Harry Bradbeer and his team pull off, it is absolutely worth noting! The film ends with Sherlock meeting his famous counterpart and sidekick, Dr. John Watson. While it lays out the path for a possible sequel, it makes one wonder if the filmmakers will shift to a more Sherlock-based approach and let Enola be a side character in her own film.

One of the best things about the film is definitely how it loosely bases the plot on true events of 1888 that saw the famed strike by matchstick-making girls. The motif of matchsticks and fire is constantly used throughout the film as it represents the young girls in factories who are oppressed and endangered on a daily basis before they finally rage against authority. The film is also a great exploration of class politics; it is amazing to see how well they balance such nuances within a light-hearted plot that weaves in humour, violence, mystery and romance at the same time.

Brown perfectly summarized the story in her tribute to the girls during her speech at the New York City premiere: “The story is based on real women, real workers, real mothers and real warriors. The matchstick girls stood up to the man and took those matchsticks, lit them alight, and marched through the fire with their dignity and strength.”

An absolute watch for all!

Enola Holmes 2 will premiere on Netflix on November 4, 2022.