In Harry Bradbeer’s—as in the guy who directed Fleabag—Enola Holmes, Millie Bobby Brown plays Enola, the sassy, teen detective sister to Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill). When her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) goes missing, she journeys off from her lush cluttercore mansion home on the outskirts of London and looks for her, outwitting her older brothers Sherlock and Mycroft (Sam Claflin). Throw in a fateful meeting with the dashing, young, and innocently clueless young Viscount, Lord Tewksbury (Louis Partridge), and an underlying plot about family betrayal and the fight for women’s suffrage, and you’ve got the recipe for one of the best teen films in recent years.
Given that premise, it’s fair to say this isn’t your typical teen action film and Enola isn’t your typical female protagonist. The 16-year-old investigator doesn’t need Tewksbury to solve the mystery, nor is she a damsel in distress (in fact, it’s the opposite, she’s the one helping him). She’s well equipped to handle the physical stunts, make the life-or-death decisions required to survive in this misogynistic world and outsmart everyone. It’s for this reason why Enola Holmes is a fantastic romp, rich in witty dialogue, punchy action and immaculate polish and costume design, all enveloped together in a teen feminist bow. And, just like Fleabag, Enola, and Millie, live and breathe for the camera, doing what all of us overthinkers do best: cutting back and forth between talking to ourselves (the camera) and the surrounding people and world around us.
It’s for this reason that, speaking with Syrup, Millie says that Enola Holmes is “2020’s Best Vlogger.”
“It’s something I’ve never done before, so I was definitely very excited to throw myself into breaking the fourth wall,” Millie told Syrup. “I always loved the idea of taking the camera and having the audience go on an adventure with me. I was really excited about having the audience come on this adventure with Enola, and it’s kind of like she’s 2020’s best vlogger. She’s like, ‘okay guys, let’s go.'”
“There’s a certain level of nerves that you have going into it, just because I had never done it before. But once I got very comfortable, I almost got too comfortable. I actually had a dream while I was filming that I’d go on to Stranger Things and not be able to stop looking at the camera.”
“I called the directors of Stranger Things [and said,] ‘I just had a dream that I would never stop looking at cameras.’ And they were like, ‘Millie, that’s ridiculous.’ So when I went back to filming a different project of mine, I was kind of peeking at the camera like, ‘I’m not looking. I’m not looking.’ So I got into my head about it. That’s how much I enjoyed doing it.”
But, working with legendary director Harry Bradbeer isn’t the only reason that Millie jumped onboard to star in—and for the first time, produce—the film adaptation of Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes Mysteries series. Growing up without seeing herself on screen, she found herself naturally drawn to Enola and what she represented to young girls like her.
“I just think that there isn’t a character out there like Enola Holmes,” she told Syrup. “Growing up, I didn’t have a young female British lead to look up to. And if I did have an inspiration, it was Hannah Montana, but she was American, and she didn’t sound like I did, so it was kind of disappointing.”
Sure, you have Hermione Granger from Harry Potter but she wasn’t the lead. What Millie and thousands of other young girls in the world wanted and deserved was a British teen heroine to look up to. But, the minute she read the book with her older sister when she was younger, she realised that the exact character she was looking for all this time was the book’s sassy, feminist teen Sherlock Holmes heroine, Enola.
“I didn’t get to have that inspiration as a young child,” she said. “So this was my inspiration. Reading this book, I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, so many young girls are going to love Enola as much as I do.’”
“And then, when we created the script, we wrote it for a wider range audience. This wasn’t just for young girls anymore. Anyone could watch this and love this story. So I think that’s what kind of drew me toward the character because I wanted [to play] someone I wanted when I was growing up.”
“You always watch films where the men save the woman and it’s the same story over and over again,” Millie added. “We’re gonna get bored of that one day, we got to try something new. And so with this film, Enola is saving Tewksbury. And I love that.”
“I love that she’s not finding him, she’s saving him. He’s in danger and she’s physically able to save him, so why not? And I think that that’s what makes her a true superhero.”
Enola Holmes is directed by Harry Bradbeer, written by Nancy Springer and produced by Mary Parent and Legendary Entertainment. It stars Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin, Helena Bonham Carter and Louis Partridge. You can catch the film over on Netflix.