Wicked Little Letters - Film Review

Wicked Little Letters - Film Review


Posted 2024-03-15 by Jenfollow
Images © Blueprint Pictures, Film4, StudioCanal et al

If there's one comedic film you need to see this year, it has to be Wicked Little Letters . Rated MA15+ and 102 mins long, it's a comedy, mystery directed by Thea Sharrock, and stars the formidable Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Timothy Spall, Anjana Vasan, Gemma Jones, Hugh Skinner, Paul Chahidi, Alisha Weir, and Malachi Kirby. It'll be in cinemas on 21 March 2024.

Set in the 1920s in an English seaside town, it bears witness to a dark and absurd scandal, based on a stranger-than-fiction true story. This is one of two neighbours - the deeply conservative and religious local Edith Swan (Olivia Colman) who still lives with her parents, and the rowdy Irish migrant and single mother Rose Gooding (Jessie Buckley). When Edith and fellow residents begin to receive wicked letters full of unintentionally hilarious profanities, foulmouthed Rose is charged with the crime. The anonymous letters prompt a national uproar, and a trial ensues. However, as the town's women - led by female Police Officer Gladys Moss (Anjana Vasan) - begin to investigate the crime themselves, they suspect that something is amiss, and Rose may not be the culprit after all.

Based on an incredible true story unearthed from the 1920s, the Littlehampton wicked little letters see the light of day in the most hilarious way possible for the audience; with a mystery attached to its body. Edith and Rose actually embark on a growing friendship, but it's cut short when Rose holds her own with Edith's strict and disapproving father Edward (Timothy Spall) at his birthday party. In the wake of this showdown, Edith and her fellow residents begin to receive wicked letters full of foul-mouthed yet hilarious profanities. If Rose is convicted, she will lose her daughter Nancy for good. However something is amiss, and it seems it's only weighing on the mind of Police Officer Gladys Moss. For the male officers, it's a cut-and-dry case and as far as they're concerned, Rose Gooding is the culprit.

Whilst largely comedic, the film does have a mix of tones and dramatic foundations. No one could have straddled the two better than Olivia Coleman and needless to say, she's her absolute best, given the wild chance to do absolute damage to a script that is original, bold and entertaining. She has one of the most expressive faces that says a thousand words with a glance or an expression. Jessie Buckley is no slouch either as she keeps up with Coleman in a story about women who have the power to take each other down in certain ways, and the men around them. There's a good balance of heart and humour, while it tackles the serious subject of its times, some really big themes like - inequality, oppression, subservience, freedom of speech, and a side of poison pen letters, without being too heavy at all.

The relationship between Edith and Rose is central to the entire film, and they couldn't have picked a better pair of actors than they did. The real Gladys Moss was the first female police officer in history in Sussex, and she was educated. A very new concept in the country, let alone Sussex and Littlehampton, Gladys (Anjana Vasan) wasn't given the chance to flourish. She is battling daily misogyny in her work environment from her male colleagues, notably from Constable Papperwick (Hugh Skinner) and the Police Sergeant (Paul Chahidiand). Both men are clearly uncomfortable with this modern idea of a woman working in the force and have trouble acknowledging her skills and refuse to believe her when she suggests that Rose may not be the true writer of these letters. Vasan is perfection in her performance as are the rest of the supporting cast. There are a lot of strong performers here, including Timothy Spall as Edith's domineering father.

This small-town post-war setting might seem lightyears away from modern society - where phones were a distant idea and toilets and baths were still shared between neighbours. Yet, there's something timeless that still strikes a chord today: trolling, and those who choose to fight that hate. This is a laugh-out-loud must-see film despite the unnoticeable serious undertones because you're too busy laughing. No one does it like the Brits. Full of humour throughout, with stellar performances all round, while giving the audience a solid mystery to contemplate, this is a comedy with dramatic bones. A movie you’d want to see twice to make sure you’ve mopped up every clever, caustic line uttered. A 10 out of 10.

280548 - 2024-03-13 14:46:44


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