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Review: Millie Bobby Brown shines in fresh, fun 'Enola Holmes'

The "Stranger Things" star is magnificent in this forward spin on the 'Sherlock' story

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Millie Bobby Brown is magical in "Enola Holmes," playing the little sister of world-famous detective Sherlock Holmes. The 16-year-old star has been transfixing audiences for three seasons on Netflix's sci-fi smash "Stranger Things," but even to fans of the series, her performance here is a revelation.

As soon as "Enola Holmes" begins, Brown talks directly into the camera, Ferris Bueller-style, and brings the audience directly into her headspace. She's bright, effervescent, headstrong and smart as a whip, with a confidence that makes you want to follow her wherever she goes. She's a remarkable tour guide through this inventive world.

Millie Bobby Brown in "Enola Holmes."

It's England in 1884, and Enola — her name is "alone" spelled backwards — has just turned 16. Her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) is gone, and when she goes to meet her visiting brothers Sherlock (Henry "Superman" Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin) at the train station, they don't recognize her. Maybe she really is alone. 

And that's the way Enola prefers things, although Mycroft, her legal guardian, has other plans. He sends her off to a finishing school, and her escape leads to a caper involving a runaway viscount, the search for her mother and all sorts of other adventures. 

"Enola Holmes" is the best piece of "Sherlock Holmes"-branded material in years, and it's a fun, feminist, forward spin on the Sherlock story. Director Harry Bradbeer, a TV veteran who helmed "Fleabag" and has worked on "Killing Eve," brings a keen eye and a visual flare to "Enola," and he trusts Brown to lead the way. 

Cavill, it's worth noting, makes an extraordinary Holmes, but he's not the focus here. This is Brown's show, and she's the key to the revival of the Sherlock franchise. Should there be a sequel? It's elementary, my dear Watson.

'Enola Holmes'

GRADE: A-

Rated PG-13: for some violence

Running time: 123 minutes

On Netflix

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama