The film "Enola Holmes" was picked up and released by Netflix when Covid restrictions impacted its planned theatrical release. It is adapted from the first novel in the Young Adult series "The Enola Holmes Mysteries" written by Nancy Springer. Needless to say there is no mention of a sister Enola in the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Conan Doyle, so these novels take the general setting and core characters and develop new adventures with a new focus. This first film (there could well be more from the later novels in the series) stars the young actress Millie Bobby Brown straight from Netflix's own TV series "Stranger Things", and she also has a producer credit on the film. The other main characters are Enola's brothers Sherlock and Mycroft (played by Henry Cavill and Sam Claflin respectively), and Helena Bonham Carter as the siblings' mother. The score composer is Daniel Pemberton who has a string of credits in television, video games and films with some of his most recent film scores including "Birds of Prey", "Yesterday" and "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse".
So how does Pemberton approach the "Enola Holmes" score? The film very much sticks to the Young Adult orientation of the novel, though just like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga and more, it no doubt appeals to many older adults too. Given its period setting it is perhaps closer in feel to Harry Potter than those other examples, and Pemberton seems to appeal to that demographic with bouncy rhythms, engaging melodies and a core orchestral sound dominated by strings and woodwind. The film also breaks the 4th wall with Enola's own voice-over which gives voice to her thoughts while providing exposition and historical background to the main characters, accompanied by rapid fire imagery which firmly classifies the film as a 'modern' costume drama. These voice-over asides also give opportunities and challenges to the music. The voice-over technique happens right from the get-go during the opening titles. The main theme is set out in track 1 "Enola Holmes (Wild Child)" and then repeated in track 3 "Mycroft & Sherlock Holmes". It has an infectiously bouncy rhythm and chord sequence, with the main melody introduced on oboe, followed by some violin support. It describes both the character of the film (as an adventure yarn), and the lead character herself as an indomitable young woman who is capable and confident above her years and ready for anything.
"Cracking the Crysanthemums Cypher" introduces a new rhythmic beat suggesting moving or riding, but in this case describing a mental journey of cracking the cypher, just like Enola's brother's thought processes while investigating clues in some modern Sherlock Holmes adaptations. The track also introduces a wordless female solo voice, which is a sound which recurs from time to time in the score. "The Game is Afoot" features rhythmic chase music, mostly on strings supported by other instruments with snatches of melody. By the 6th track "Train Escape" (with another new rhythm) the score's initial propulsive movement firmly establishes it as an action/adventure, though the track also has some dramatic twists and turns. A new theme with some 'Downton Abbey' qualities is introduced for the "Marquis" and then we have some character development and thematic interplay.
By track 10 "London Arrival" the score takes on a new dimension, with some European instrumentation perhaps suggesting the multicultural mix in the big city, and some tracks now seem to exhibit more of a folk genre. The score takes on elements of mystery, danger, surprise, threat and excitement as would be expected of the action adventure mystery investigative genre. At times things are episodic but there's plenty of character and plot development, plus plenty of new musical material. There is some darker material too as 'the plot thickens', some lighter moments with a vaguely comical bassoon, and in true 'thrilling adventure' mode the music reaches several climaxes. The wordless singing voice returns too, and there are several more personal moments as might be expected in coming of age dramas, and one of Enola's personal mysteries concern the actions of her mother. In "School Escape" the main theme and secondary theme seem to run around each other helter-skelter, and the closing titles eventually wrap things up by restating the main theme coming full circle to end on its introductory oboe.
You could describe the score as very much like the film's central character: relatable and a little bit eccentric. It has action, drama, mystery, adventure, and jeopardy but also some character development and emotion. It is full of good tunes and propulsive rhythms, with interesting and sometimes surprising instrumentation. While I wouldn't expect the score to be a serious oscar-contender, it is a hugely entertaining listen which further extends Pemberton's range. The film score is available to download and also as a CD (an increasingly rare format) at the following sites among others: Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
These are the CD album tracks - scroll down to find 3 additional tracks that are only available for download.