‘Wicked Little Letters’ Review: A Bawdy and Funny British Comedy

Kenny Miles reviews Wicked Little Letters, a British comedy that doesn't hold back from being very lewd and very funny.

Wicked Little Letters is a cheeky and naughty mystery British comedy that is very foul with language and doesn’t skimp out on the laughs. Delightfully directed by Thea Sharrock, the amusing romp is led by a respected ensemble cast of Brits, including Gemma Jones, Eileen Atkins, and the always-excellent Timothy Spall. Audiences are in for a good time with the throwaway jokes and strong acting ensemble, even when the movie runs out of steam.

Set in a 1920s English Sussex seaside town and based somewhat on a true story, Wicked Little Letters follows a traditional Christian woman, Edith (a devilishly hilarious Olivia Colman), and rambunctious Irish migrant Rose (another fantastic Jessie Buckley performance), getting to know each other by forming an unexpected friendship than it turns into a rivalry.

We get to know the town’s inner workings and meet all the characters at a somewhat slow beginning full of setup. Edith and other locals start to receive nasty notes full of obscenities; Rose, as the foul-mouthed immigrant, is charged with the crime without a lot of evidence. The anonymous letters are so well-known that they garner nationwide attention, followed by a trial. During these scenes, you wonder what is happening and who could be sending the letters, but things make sense. I was here for the over-the-top one-liners and petty insults.

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Despite being trivial and light on the plot and story, Wicked Little Letters is very funny and entertaining. It is a brisk 100-minute watch full of intrigue, witty insults, and even some unexpected twists with a few of the characters. Though the movie can be simplistic and slight, the comedy is elevated thanks to the two central performances from Colman and Buckley. How they react to the circumstances is perfect, and this cute movie wouldn’t have always succeeded without them.

The side characters are also a hoot, delivering one-liners and advancing the story when needed, and one stood out. The biggest highlight and most unexpected was Singaporean actress and singer-songwriter Anjana Vasan, the breakout surprise as Gladys Moss, the “woman police officer” on a mission to find the letter’s author no matter what it takes. She deserves to have a robust acting career after this.

Wicked Little Letters is now playing in theaters nationwide.

Written by
Kenny admired film criticism as a child when his mother wrote a positive review of Home Alone in his small town Arkansas newspaper and defended it against angry Letters to the Editor. Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies especially the cultural impact of a film, if something is overlooked by Hollywood, or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, specialty releases, an auteur director, a unique premise, branding, and THE much infamous "awards season." Kenny currently lives in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. When he isn’t writing, Kenny channels his passion working as an events marketing coordinator. He spends many Friday nights exit polling for CinemaScore (and his opinions are his own).

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