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Wicked Little Letters

Based on a true story in 1920s England, Wicked Little Letters unravels the mystery of a potty mouth pen pal terrorising the residents of Littlehampton with lewd letters.

‘Based on a true scandal’ is always a fabulous way to start any movie, and Wicked Little Letters is no different. From the sharp pen of award-winning comedian, Johny Sweet and the genius direction of Thea Sharrock comes the most charming of British chucklefests. This smorgasbord of swear words is certainly not for the faint of ear, but Wicked Little Letters story runs far deeper than its vicious vocabulary.


Wicked Little Letters follows the relationship between polarising Littlehampton neighbours, Edith Swan (Olivia Colman) and Rose Gooding (Jessie Buckley). When a series of foul-mouthed letters begin to grace the welcome mat of the Swan household, professional potty-mouth Rose becomes an instant suspect. With her freedom and the custody of her daughter on the line, Rose swears (a lot) she didn’t do it. While the police believe they have their culprit signed, sealed and delivered with ink on her hands, WPC Gladys Moss (Anjana Vasan) has other ideas. With the help of the local Littlehampton women, she seeks to get to the bottom of this most peculiar of mysteries.


At its heart, Wicked Little Letters is a tale of three women – the free-spirited accused, Rose Gooding, the repressed accuser, Edith Swan, and the inquisitive investigator, Gladys Moss. Jessie Buckley gifts a masterful performance as our Irish protagonist, earning your heart in mere seconds of her first appearance before stealing every scene thereafter. She turns even the tensest of situations into grin-worthy cinema with nothing more than a well-placed piece of profanity and a cheeky half-smile.

Wicked Little Letters

Olivia Colman continues to demonstrate her unrivalled comic timing, but it's her range that gives Edith so much depth between the laughs. Anjana Hasan delivers a patient performance as Littlehampton’s most capable member of the force, riding the line between civic duty and morality. Referred to as a ‘Woman Police Officer’ throughout, a label designed to belittle, Gladys admirably turns it into a badge of honour in spite of her hopeless male superiors.

On the other side of the coin, Timothy Spall provides a clenched and bitter portrayal of the oppressive Edward Swan. While his daughter, Edith, remains the accuser and lead witness in Rose’s trial, it is undoubtedly Edward who leads the witch hunt against his neighbour. Hugh Skinner also encapsulates the cocksure, bumbling Constable Papperwick with fantastic precision as he stumbles his way from one faux pas to another.

Wicked Little Letters

While Wicked Little Letters is designed predominantly to entertain its audience with an enjoyable 100 minutes of classically British comedy, there are plenty of underlying lessons at play – an education in expanding your swearing capabilities, for one. The oppression of Edith under the patriarchy of her insecure father. The pressure for Rose to bend herself to the image of ‘what a woman should be’. The glass ceiling placed against the head of Gladys Moss. Wicked Little Letters may not tackle any one of these issues head-on, but it leaves plenty between the lines for viewers to draw their own conclusions and learn their own lessons.

For those looking to learn their swearing ABCs, and by that we of course mean a******e, b*****d, and c**k, Wicked Little Letters is an eye-opening education like no other.


Rating Wicked Little Letters



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