Enola Holmes: Breaking the Fourth Wall with Millie Bobby Brown
Harry Bradbeer’s Enola Holmes is an uplifting, youthful entrance into the Sherlock Holmes mythos. While the film features classic elements of mystery and period, it also contains some modern twists. Among them is the deliberate breaking of the fourth wall. That, together with the film’s shining lead, Millie Bobbie Brown, thrusts the audience into the story.
Kicking Down the Third Wall
Enola Holmes mimics a classic mystery story. A key character goes missing, and it is up to the brilliant detective to find him/her. That plot is something we’ve come to expect from a story set in the world of Sherlock Holmes. However, this film updates the technique of the mystery story to be more inclusive of the audience. The film begins immediately with Enola looking into the camera and speaking to the audience. She is the narrator of her own story.
Throughout the film, Enola clues the audience into the details or background of particular events. The brilliant thing about it is that it allows for a lot of exposition without boring the audience. Exposition is often the enemy of an engaging story, and the filmmakers have ensured Enola Holmes is bulletproof.
Performing with a Wink
The main strength of Enola Holmes is the film’s lead, Millie Bobby Brown. She brings a youthful light and energy that infects the audience. While the story is visually Victorian and traditional, Millie is there to guide a modern audience. Her glances and winks at the audience hint that this is not your classic Sherlock Holmes mystery. Enola is on the path to be even more brilliant than her brother Sherlock. Millie’s wit and humor bleed into the role of Enola. Her performance is extremely natural, and it’s obvious that she enjoys it. She is the heart and soul of the film.
Aside from her charm and wit, Millie Bobby Brown also showcases her intense physical abilities. Although Enola Holmes is a family film, it does not shy away from brutal and blunt action pieces. The hand to hand combat sequences are gritty. Enola is choked, thrown around, and slammed into walls. She also delivers punishing blows to her foes. Millie performs nearly all of those sequences. The action is fast, modern, and executed in victorian lady’s garb and corset.
Enola Holmes is a different kind of Victorian-era mystery. Not because it has to be, but only because, as Enola would say, it chooses to be. It just works.