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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Rob Reviews "Wicked Little Letters"

Wicked Little Letters is the type of movie that you don’t see much anymore on a couple of levels.  Very “talkie” with very little else while being shot well and executed smartly, this is a film that could be considered “indie,” but I prefer to think it’s a bit more “old school”.


It’s the 1920s, and the small town of Littlehampton in England is rocked after one of its locals in Edith Swan (Olivia Coleman) has received several letters in the mail that are nothing short of scandalous and profane.  The identity of the author of these letters is unknown, but Edith, her family, and the local authorities have it pinned on her new neighbor, Rose Gooding (Jessie Buckley), who has come over from Ireland after the death of her husband in the war with her daughter and new boyfriend.  As the letters become more frequent and widespread, Rose faces a very long prison sentence for libel (remember, this is the 1920s) while second generation local police officer Gladys Moss (Anjana Vasan) starts to have doubts.  As the mystery deepens, the stakes intensify with Rose’s life and family in the balance.


I cannot be clearer on this: there is A LOT of profane language in this film, but that is because of the nature of the story.  It could be considered gratuitous, but if that kind of thing does not bother you, there is a really good story at the center of this.  Based on true events, this combination of drama and comedy is one that is so outrageous I kept shaking my head in the best possible way.  I was expecting a bit more comedy than there actually was (the drama does turn things up to eleven in a couple of places), but the balance of the two genres works well and even does so from the different points of view that I found interesting.  Olivia Coleman is always a powerhouse, and this is no exception.  I am always up for anything she is in, and Buckley goes toe-to-toe with her in a conflict that is nothing short of palpable.  The surprise for me is in Vasan, who takes what could be a minor character and turns her into perhaps the most important part of the story to get to its eventual resolution.  Knowing that her character is one that breaks barriers for its time, she portrays Moss with a level of grace and dignity that combines with courage and tenacity that rounds out this solid cast well.


If there is any criticism that I have of Wicked Little Letters is that its reveal comes a bit earlier than I would have liked to have seen.  I’m not saying that I figured it out fairly early on, but I would have liked to have seen it dragged out a bit longer before verifying my suspicions as the story unfolded.  There are even a couple of moments that furthered the reveal later on that seemed unnecessary outside of letting the audience know that certain characters were catching up to what we already knew.


Sometimes, it’s OK to see a film that doesn’t need to blow stuff up or bombard our senses with CGI or practical special effects to make a couple of hours of our time worth it.  Wicked Little Letters is the type of film that knows how to do that and does so in a way that entertains and engages.

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