Enola Holmes: What Is the Reform Bill?
Enola Holmes: Nobody Explicitly Says What the Reform Bill Is, but We Can Decipher the Clues
Enola Holmes is perhaps one of the most charming family-friendly films Netflix has recently dropped. The movie, which premiered on Sept. 23, follows the adventures of Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) — the younger sister of famed detective Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and government official Mycroft (Sam Claflin). She sets out to find her mother, Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), who disappeared on her 16th birthday, leaving her nothing but money and a cipher decoder. During the escapade, Enola meets a young runaway nobleman named Viscount Tewksbury (Louis Partridge) and helps him evade the assassin Linthorn (Burn Gorman). While Eudoria's disappearance and the mystery surrounding Tewksbury's murderous stalker seem unrelated at first, it becomes clear that they're connected by one thing: the suffrage movement.
Throughout the movie, which takes place in 1884, there are several references to a reform bill. Although they never directly say what the bill is, there are a handful of clues that indicate its a proposal to give women the right to vote. Tewksbury reveals to Enola that he ran away because his family is set on sending him to the army before he replaces his late father in the House of Lords where he'd be able to vote on the bill. He confirms that he's in favor of the act, saying at one point, "I had these ideas about how we might progress the estate." However, his stance is frowned upon by some members of his family, namely his grandmother, the Dowager (Frances de la Tour). She believes that new thinkers threaten their way of life, which prompts her to hire Linthorn to do away with Tewksbury — just like how she had his father killed, knowing the lord would support voter expansion.
Meanwhile, Eudoria is linked to the suffrage movement as a fervent activist. After Eudoria vanishes, Enola pieces together hints and inklings that point to her mother's involvement in anonymous social protests. The young detective recalls witnessing Eudoria host a secret meeting with other women where she says something about having to choose from three options: the bankmen met, entangle herb, and Ellie Houseman. Enola realizes that the choices are anagrams for different locations throughout London: The Embankment, Bethnal Green, and Limehouse Lane.
Remembering that they selected the latter, Enola heads to Limehouse Lane, where she finds an abandoned hideout filled with gun powder and a booklet titled Protest, Unrest, and Civil Disobedience that lists powerful explosives, including the Orsini bomb. The leaflet includes a news article that details an explosion that took place in Great Scotland Yard and destroyed the offices of the criminal investigation department. Enola also finds a stack of flyers that read, "Manchester National Society For Woman's Suffrage Public Meeting," followed by the names Amie Hicks, Gwyneth Vaughan, and Margaret McMillan, who were real-life suffragists during that time.
Enola Holmes might not blatantly explain the reform bill, but it allows viewers to play detectives themselves and infer that it's a suffrage manifesto. It also doesn't explicitly state whether the proposal passed. However, when Enola reconnects with her mother at the end of the movie, she earns high praise, which we can assume is because she played a part in giving women the right to vote. If the bill did pass, it doesn't quite match up, historically, considering women weren't able to vote in the UK until the Representation of the People Act in 1918. Even then, only women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification could take part in elections, which excluded a large portion of the demographic. Women didn't receive the same right to vote as men until the Equal Franchise Act 1928, which allowed women over the age of 21 to participate in the political act. So if there's anything we can take away from this film, it's to exercise your right to vote.