Enola Holmes Review: First Wave Feminism Through The Eyes of A Sixteen-Year-Old Girl


Precious Sesay

In September 2020, Netflix released a new movie called Enola Holmes, starring Millie Bobby Brown, Helena Bonham Carter, and Louis Patridge. In this film Brown and Carter play the mother-daughter duo of Enola and Eudoria Holmes. All is well in the Holmes household in which Enola, Eudoria, and their maid reside; until Eudoria goes missing on Enola’s 16th birthday. Through the journey of finding her mother, Enola also has to find herself while having to bear the burden of being the sister to Sherlock – the famous detective – and Mycroft Holmes.

This movie does a great job of handling important topics such as feminism while also maintaining a humorous tone. We are introduced to a wide array of characters, who all fall on different sides of the spectrum when it comes to feminism in 19th century England. Characters such as Eudoria actively fight for women’s rights contrast others such as Miss. Harrison, the headmistress at Enola’s school, who believes that a woman’s role is to wed and take care of children. Giving these two different perspectives allows viewers to see how people from similar backgrounds can have completely different ideas, while people from different backgrounds can think the same. 

In our current society, where a lot more people are pro-feminism, this film is a great inspiration to girls in our generation to always look for more when it comes to their hopes and dreams. A senior at Eleanor Roosevelt, Kathy Palma, says “In some parts I can relate to her, such as being trapped and forced into feminine roles in order to fit into society”. Having a teenage girl explore the world on her own without being confined to help from others while simultaneously accepting it when needed is a positive role model that I think young women in our generation need.

In contrast, the movie also shows how men view feminism which is a less personal opinion. One specific scene where Sherlock has a conversation with Enola’s fighting instructor, Edith remarks that Sherlock has no interest in politics because he has “no interest in changing a world that suits you so well”. These ideologies translate into our current time of activism where we see that a lot of people in power are comfortable with broken systems because these are the very systems that gave them power in the first place. This power is what also has people like Mycroft Holmes, who do not believe in feminism and see it as such a radical idea, completely disregarding Enola’s talents and skills because they are not seen as lady-like. For this reason, he was very determined to send her to a school where they would condition her to be the perfect young lady. Unlike Mycroft, Tewksbury, who we are introduced to when Enola first began her journey, happens to support feminism because of his father’s teachings. The difference in Enola’s mother teaching her more masculine viewed activities such as fighting and sports while Tewksbery’s father taught him about things like plants and flowers, shows the audience how everyone’s particular experiences and upbringing is what shapes their views of the world.

I believe that Enola Holmes is a very good watch for those who are bored at home, movie fanatics, or someone who is simply just looking for another movie to obsess with. Kathy Palma would “recommend this movie to others because it was funny as well as action packed and entertaining overall”. Other people may potentially have this experience while watching it, because I know that I also agree with Kathy on how it is entertaining. With our current younger generation and students at ERHS being more involved in politics, this movie can inspire us regardless of who we are because we see two young intellectuals fighting for the rights of others while also fighting for their own.