We first met Enola Holmes (2020), younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft, as she investigated the disappearance of their mother on Enola’s sixteenth birthday. Shenanigans of course ensued, and now-independent Enola has decided to capitalise on the experience by setting up her own detective agency.
It doesn’t quite go to plan. Prospective clients are aghast at her age, her gender, finding out that she’d not just the secretary, and oh by the way, is Sherlock available? Poised to admit failure and give it all up, she’s approached by a girl looking for her missing sister. Soon, Enola is knee-deep in mystery, largely revolving around the true life plight of the ‘matchstick girls’. Can she untwist the threads of conspiracy, and does the case have anything to do with her famous brother’s most recent work?
I enjoyed the first instalment of Enola’s story, based on a series of YA books reimagining the Conan Doyle tales from the point of view of a sparky younger sister. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but pleasant enough to give this sequel – not based on any of the books, it seems – a go.
And largely we get more of the same. More independent, fierce young Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) fighting sexism and trying to carve her own place in the world, all the while regularly breaking the forth wall for little asides to the camera. We get a lot more Sherlock (Henry Cavil) this time, which is neither a good nor bad thing. I’m not wholly sure the character fits in so large a role in a film about someone else? Certainly, the effort to bring Sherlockian canon into this series just feels… lazy? A missed opportunity to do something different rather than rehash stories we’ve seen time and time again? I couldn’t help but feel that it pushes Enola a little out of the centre of her own story – what was that about sexist attitudes of the time? 😉
Still, we also get a highly entertaining romp that at the same time does a good job of revealing a lot of the horrible inequalities of the time period. Sexism and classism are the norms, and it’s quite a powerful move to use a real-life case rather than relying on the books, while at the same time meaning there’s a limited amount of suspense – the Matchgirl’s Strike of 1888 even has a Wikipedia page!
Like the previous movie, this was a fun watch, but really doesn’t hold up to too much scrutiny. The characters all felt a little flat to me, with only the Holmes’ siblings rising much above vague or bland stereotypes. It all looks great, set design and costuming both, which does earn it some brownie points from me. But in trying to put my finger on what didn’t really work for me, I just have a mental jumble of scenes and characters all over the place – and maybe that was the problem. It’s got a bit of just too much going on, hung together precariously but only just.
Overall: watchable, but nothing particularly special. You’ll probably like it about the same as the first movie, although if I had to pick I’d say the first was a little better.
Released: 4th November 2022
Viewed: 6th November 2022
Running time: 129 minutes
My rating: 6/10