Wicked Little Letters

Wicked Little Letters

2024, R, 102 min. Directed by Thea Sharrock. Starring Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Timothy Spall, Anjana Vasan, Hugh Skinner, Alisha Weird, Eileen Atkins, Joanna Scanlan, Lolly Adefope, Gemma Jones.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., April 5, 2024

The title seems engineered to ride the tailwind of a Liane Moriarty suspense, but constitutionally, Wicked Little Letters is more of a cozy British mystery goosed with eye-popping profanity. “Her Majesty Miss Swan sucks ten cocks a week” begins one of the poison pen letters sent anonymously in this historical curio inspired by true events – “more true than you’d think,” the opening chyron grins.

In post-WWI England, a small seaside community is torn asunder by these nasty notes. Initially, the letters target Edith Swan (Colman), a pious spinster who lives with her bullying father (Spall). But soon the entire village is on the receiving end of an epically vulgar epistle. The police finger as their culprit Edith’s Irish next-door neighbor, war widow and single mother Rose Gooding (Buckley). Only Rose – rowdy and able with four-letter words – has a sensible defense: Why would she say in an anonymous letter what she’d happily tell you straight to your face? Law enforcement is unmoved – an outcast, Rose is an easy target – save Gladys Moss (Vasan), a “woman police officer” (yep, “woman” is part of the official job title) who’s convinced there’s more to the story.

Indeed there is, and it’s dispatched with pluck by director Thea Sharrock (Me Before You), writer Jonny Sweet, and a zingy cast that came to play. The film’s upbeat mien and amusingly broad characterizations belie the seriousness of a wrongful accusation, the terrible injustice of it, but Wicked Little Letters is too light on its feet to mull that for long. That doesn’t mean the script is shallow. “Remember your place” a (male) constable barks at Gladys; spoken or implied, that’s the message being fed the womenfolk of Littlehampton at large. Whether itching for suffrage or to say whatever filthy fucking thing that springs to mind, rebellion is in the air, and it gives this likably goofy whodunit a light tang of the subversive.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Wicked Little Letters, Thea Sharrock, Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Timothy Spall, Anjana Vasan, Hugh Skinner, Alisha Weird, Eileen Atkins, Joanna Scanlan, Lolly Adefope, Gemma Jones

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