Review: Wicked Little Letters is a Delightful Romp


Delightful, the word that comes to mind after watching the movie Wicked Little Letters. The film returns to a long forgotten episode from the 1920’s.

Featuring Olivia Colman as the prim spinster Edith Swan seemingly targeted by an onslaught of lewd anonymous letters filled with the unique cursing of the English, the cast boasts an array of women in character roles that delivers a delicious jolt of windy humor.

Blame falls on the shoulders of a female neighbor with an actually profane mouth, Rose. She’s a recent transplant from Ireland with her young daughter and live-in lover. It is clear Rose is not the culprit if for no other reason than her unabashed direct swearing tirades suggest she has little need for anonymous letters.

As with proper caper films, it’s the local residents who deliver answers especially once several local women suspect Rose has been set up.

The woman police officer anxious to live up to the legacy of her deceased police father, the local postmistress, a female farmer, etc. While Edith basques in the praise for enduring her trials, the other women’s lived experiences show a community not quite as outraged as they may protest.  Their lived experiences as women living deftly nontraditional lives in a small town and equally adept at navigating a world where men dominate so women must be creative. They know Rose isn’t guilty and resort to hilarious methods to investigate. Lots of darting into alleyways, furtive glances and eye rolls make the physical comedy keep pace with the verbal hilarity.

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The representative cast touches on the universal experience of ‘protecting’ women from profanity because they are too delicate even while those same women flourish in that same world. Edith’s church friends are outraged on her behalf, but equally outraged by the false accusations targeting Rose.

If anything, there wasn’t enough screen time for the ensemble to shine. I always appreciate the British actors willingness to take on a delicious character role. Stalwart disapproving English mother Gemma Jones is a welcome addition although she once again suffers an unfortunate death as she did in Ammonite. A standout was relative newcomer Anjana Vasan as Police Officer Gladys Moss. Her facial expressions alone put her in good company with the more familiar older characters. Vasan has the lead role in We Are Lady Parts, another brilliant British production exploring the bonds of women.

Best of all – this is based on a true story from Littlehampton, Sussex in the 1920s.

This is a great romp. As a blogger, I can appreciate the impact of a poison pen. In this era of social media, the capacity to injure with a few keystrokes while maintaining anonymity is very much a modern construct.

Wicked Little Letters opens in New York and Los Angeles on March 29, and nationwide on April 5.


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