Talking Movies: Enola Holmes, Transit and Santana

Spling reviews Enola Holmes, Transit and Santana as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.


Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…

This week, we’re talking about a period detective adventure drama, a mystery drama and an action thriller.

Starting off with a film now on Netflix…


When Enola Holmes discovers her mother missing, she sets off to find her, pursued by her estranged brother, Sherlock.

Director: Harry Bradbeer

Stars: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill and Sam Claflin

– Enola Holmes is based upon the book by Nancy Springer and is intended to become a series of films centred around Sherlock’s sister.
– In a star-making role, the charming Millie Bobby Brown demonstrates why she’s perfectly cast as Enola in an animated and captivating performance.
– Taking place in Sherlock’s time, the adventure has the same first-rate production values and finesse we’ve come to expect from Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective.
– Enola Holmes has the same slick finish and charm as Guy Ritchie’s reimagining with Robert Downey Jr but counterbalances style with substance by tapping into deeper themes and a cosier tone.
– Tackling socio-political themes through thought-provoking reflections, it sits on a powder keg much like the film, Suffragette.
– The film may seem aimed at young adults but has enough weight to appeal to all ages incorporating delightful and quaint touches much like Paddington.
– Millie Bobby Brown is an absolute joy, carrying a presence you could describe as Johansson meets Knightley.
– Cavill’s role as Sherlock almost serves as a figurehead, Claflin has fun being crochety as Mycroft while it’s becoming a fairly typical role for Bonham Carter.
– The narrative does zigzag but it’s kept on track by its clipped pacing, stylish flair, whimsical sense of humour and guided by fourth-wall-breaking exchanges.
– Enola’s journey is one of self-discovery and rite of passage, yet could have used more in the way of obstacle.
– It’s so lovingly crafted, its flaws can be overlooked, especially if the idea of a Sherlock Holmes, Suffragette and Paddington hybrid appeals to you.

An excellent 8 on the splingometer!

Moving on to a film now on Labia Home Screen…


A man attempting to escape occupied France falls in love with the wife of a dead author whose identity he has assumed.

Director: Christian Petzold

Stars: Franz Rogowski, Paula Beer and Godehard Giese

– Transit is adapted from Anna Segher’s WWII novel but cleverly transplanted in the present against the age of the refugee crisis.
– Playing out like a surreal parable, the slinking drama is compelled by a slow unfurling mystery and fine performances.
– Rogowski’s pure humanity flows from him, caressing each scene without judgement like a cool and gentle breeze.
– Assuming another man’s identity, constantly on-the-run from authorities and enchanted by a mysterious woman, there’s an unsettling air of Hitchockian suspense to this drama.
– It’s beautifully composed, elemental and haunting, clouding a simple story so that it remains elusive and just out of reach…
– This deceptive elegance compels and distances simultaneously making the journey alluring yet head-scratchingly challenging and even frustrating.
– Those expecting challenging themes and layered storytelling will be pleased while others will take solace in its undulating beauty.
– Transit has a number of similarities to Ghost Writer and Enemy, which serve as a good guideline, even if Enemy tips into the stuff of David Lynch more readily.

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally another movie on Netflix…


Two brothers decide to take down the drug cartel linked to the death of their parents.

Writer-Directors: Maradona Dias Dos Santos, Chris Roland

Stars: Paulo Americano, Raul Rosario and Rapulana Seiphemo

– Santana is an action thriller set in Angola, sporting some heavyweight South African acting talent and essentially modelling itself as an African version of Elite Squad.
– Instead of Rio de Janerio, we have Luanda, where a determined and merciless police task force is trying to crack down on crime by smoking out drug dens and eliminating kingpins.
– While aiming for the lofty heights of an intense drug wars thriller like Elite Squad, the film plays more like a grounded G.I. Joe.
– This low budget action thriller has a good cast, makes a smart geo-shift for drug cartel thrills and leverages its world class shooting locations but is Swiss cheese if you look too closely.
– Action is an incredibly difficult genre to master and Santana comes across as cliched, substandard and uninspired.
– While Americano is brooding and the cast is handsome, sketchy casting and under-utilised talents undermine already thin characters and superfluous dialogue.
– Santana looks cool and you can sense the earnest intentions of the filmmakers but it’s riddled with fundamental story and technical issues.
– Tonally inconsistent, using a generic rock soundtrack and playing into the tropes of a SWAT style cartel action thriller, it could have been much grittier, fresher and less procedural.
– Whether it was intentional or partially salvaged, Santana is impassioned yet misguided and out-of-its-depth, further thwarted by a misogynistic undercurrent.

A third-rate 3 on the splingometer!

So just to wrap up…

ENOLA HOLMES… a charming star-making turn compels this sharp-witted, lovingly-crafted and refreshing spin on Sherlock’s world… An excellent 8!

TRANSIT… an unsettling, haunting and beautifully surreal mystery drama elevated by fine performances and timely themes… A solid 7!

SANTANA… a good concept and promising cast fall prey to lofty ambitions in this miscast, misguided and uninspired action thriller… A third-rate 3!

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And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!