★★★★★ Watched 29 Sep, 2020
Fun and whimsy teenage detective adventure. If you were wondering if Eleven from Stranger Things can carry a movie, here is your answer. After reading some of the behind-the-scenes information it became clear why is she having so much fun. Millie Bobby Brown is also a producer on this movie because her sister brought the book by Nancy Springer to her family’s production company to adapt it into the film for her younger sister Millie to star in. And star she does. Her teenage confidence mixed with vulnerability as part of the titular character is sincere and tangible. It shows she was not pushed into this or rather the movie was not soullessly designed around her to be her vehicle to stardom. And due to the narrative decision, she had to connect not just with the character and her fellow actors, but also with the invisible audience. A tall order for any actor not to come off a bit silly.
To anyone who has been following Sherlock Holmes film adaptations is obvious that director Harry Bradbeer took stylistic inspiration from Guy Ritchie’s take on the great detective from 2009 with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. The contemporary take on the costumes, the camera style, editing and pacing as well as the musical background. Since the books (6 in total) were published from 2006-2010, the stylistic choice probably does not come from there. Furthermore the comic book adaptation by a French artist Serena Blasco (in a rare watercolor style) was brought to comic life in a very different style.
I will admit the approach did not immediately pull me in all the way, but more I was looking for flaws and nitpicks, by the end, I had to admit I could not find any. The film does expertly what it sets to do, which is to tell an exciting coming of age detective story full of adventure and a few well-executed hardcore action scenes one would not expect at all in a Victorian-era teenage drama. As mentioned earlier the supporting cast, namely Enola’s brothers (Henry Cavill and Sam Claflin), Louis Partridge, and Helena Bonham Carter play well together and fit convincingly in the period setting. Based on the feedback I hope the producers will continue adapting a few other books in the series and that Netflix continues with this year’s trend of bringing us quality movies (after last year’s a few solid but mostly niche titles like Annihilation with Natalie Portman and The Bird Box with Sandra Bullock).