‘Enola Holmes’: Mystery sleuthing in the #MeToo era

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Marco Piaia, SJ

 Marco Piaia, SJ / Film & TV / Published Date:29 January 2021/Last Updated Date:16 March 2021


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Enola Holmes is a contemporary take on the detective universe created by Conan Doyle. Based on a series of novels by Nancy Springer, it combines a British setting with plot and characters imbued with the spirit of the United States. Amidst Victorian teapots and clothes, there are invitations to personal independence and to build one’s own dreams beyond ordinary expectations.

Clearly conceived to focus on the dynamics of youth, the film is interesting in that it deals with a theme that in recent years has become particularly dear to Hollywood productions, influenced by the #MeToo movement: not only is the protagonist a young girl, but the other main characters in the plot are also female. The fact that the events take place in the Victorian era towards the end of which the suffragette movement was born is a confirmation of these references.

The film reveals a secret society of women: educated girls who learn to defend themselves and who do not easily accept the role of wives and mothers imposed on them by 19th-century society, who “do not bow” even in front of. The entire plot is permeated by this pattern of denunciation and affirmation, which transforms the film’s narrative – which is primarily a detective story, full of mysteries with clues to be interpreted – a propitious opportunity for adolescents and for all of us to reflect and make sure that all this does not remain just fiction.

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As mentioned, Enola Holmes is a film for young people that recounts the journey of growing up with a certain dreamy and typically American spirit: “Our future depends on us,” “my life is mine alone,” “don’t look for someone, look after yourself” are among the most revealing expressions in the film. However, it is also a film that recounts an era of transition, which has resulted in the society of which we are part today.

The crisis generated by the pandemic reminds us that we, too, live in a time of great change: What are we offering our young people? And they, what are they fighting for? We can ask ourselves this, as we try to solve slightly less important mysteries, such as those confronting  detectives.