Home Movie Reviews ‘Wicked Little Letters’ – Review
‘Wicked Little Letters’ – Review

‘Wicked Little Letters’ – Review


The truth is often stranger than fiction, and that’s especially the case for Wicked Little Letters, a hilarious, foul-mouthed dramedy of a scandalous episode that shocked an entire nation and that reminds one to always be careful what they post.

Based on a true scandal that stunned 1920s England, the story centres on neighbours Edith Swan (Olivia Colman) and Rose Gooding (Jessie Buckley) in the seaside town of Littlehampton. One day, a series of obscene letters begin to target Edith and the other residents, with suspicion falling upon Rose. As the outrageous letters continue to escalate, Rose risks losing both her freedom and custody of her daughter. Police Officer Gladys Moss (Anjana Vasan) is determined to find the real culprit, and along with a group of other women, seeks to solve this perplexing mystery.

Sometimes a film comes along that is straight out of left field and wraps its audience up in its narrative; Wicked Little Letters is that film, and what’s more, it’s chronicling a truly strange and scandalous crime that was thought lost to history, but thankfully the truth has now come out. Filmmaker Thea Sharrock and screenwriter Jonny Sweet are the team behind Wicked Little Letters, and the end result is a piece of pure genius that can be described as a combination of comedy and character study. You’re completely taken by surprise by it. Sharrock’s direction is spot on, and she focuses inwards on her character’s feelings and motivations, and the result is a foul-mouthed, smart comedy that moves at a cracking speed and that gives its audience something incredibly fun to witness.

Academy Award winner Olivia Colman is a national treasure of the British film industry, and whenever she takes on a new project, her talent instantly rewards the production. That’s exactly what we see here with Wicked Little Letters and with her performance as Edith Swan, one of the two women at the centre of this mischievous and extremely naughty affair. Colman’s Edith is a completely sheltered, holier-than-thro busybody whose chirpy demeanour and do-gooder persona hides her stance as a know-it-all who is keen to know everyone’s business. Colman’s performance reflects her character’s personality, but Edith is not all as she seems, and Colman delivers an incredible complexity as this character who is caught up as the victim of this ‘letter writing scandal’, and her performance takes audiences for a ride.

On the other side of the narrative, we have Jessie Buckley as Rose Gooding, a loud, brazen, uncouth, and extremely foul-mouthed woman with no filter, who, as the outcast of this docile little town, is soon the prime suspect in this ‘letter writing horror’. Her portrayal of Rose is of a woman who gives as good as she gets but who is also just trying to make her way in the world amidst immense hardships and who is striving to better the life of her daughter. There’s a natural confrontation between her and Colman’s Edith, and their back and forth leads to plenty of surprising drama and one hell of a mighty twist in the end.

Wicked Little Letters is set up as a comedy with a mystery at its centre, and its dynamic story will keep you hooked right from beginning to end. Its characters crackle with convolutions, and as the story moves at pace, you quickly want to see how this ghastly mystery will resolve itself. Colman and Buckley’s co-stars, including the likes of Anjana Vasan as PC Gladys Moss, a bull-dogged policewoman who is very keen to prove her worth, and the great Timothy Spall as Edward Swan, Edith’s completely awful and foul father, add to the liveliness of the plot. Plus, there’s some extensive and creative swearing, and it’s a riot.

Wicked Little Letters is a flat-out funny and hilarious watch, and for audiences who are looking for something a little bit different, well, it strikes gold!

Image: Studio Canal