Wicked Little Letters is a wicked good film that lands firmly in the category of small indie gems that don’t get enough marketing but are thoroughly entertaining. It features two terrific leads, Olivia Colman (The Favourite) and Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter) as neighbors embroiled in a scandal involving letters laced with profanity.  The plot is based on actual events that rocked a seaside town in Sussex, England in the 1920s. And while the film is farce, there’s enough ‘truthiness’ in Wicked Little Letters to prompt a google search for the real scoop— after you watch the film.

Colman plays Edith Swan, a deeply conservative ‘respectable spinster’ who files a report with the local police about shockingly foul letters she’s been getting in the mail, and points the finger at her rowdy, Irish tart of a neighbor Rose Gooding (Buckley). The letters certainly sound like they could come from Rose, but she’s not really the type to hide behind pen and paper. She speaks her mind, much to the horror of Edith and many of the townsfolk, some of whom also start getting similar poison-pen missives in the mail.

I don’t want to give too much away here since the fun is in watching events unfold, even as the whodunnit (or who wrote it) is revealed thanks to expert detective work spearheaded by the town’s constantly patronized lone female officer, Gladys Moss (Anjana Vasan), a veritable Inspector Poirot in-the-making.

Wicked Little Letters isn’t just about a feud between neighbors that spirals out of control. It’s also about family dysfunction, community, rushes to judgment, and redemption. And while the film takes place in the 1920s (when a “post” referred to an actual piece of mail), the narrative can easily serve as a cautionary tale in our modern age of social media misinformation and mayhem. (Minus the cursive — look it up, kids!).

Wicked Little Letters is rated R for an abundance of salty language (and maybe one ‘moon’ shot). It opens March 29 in NY and LA, and everywhere April 5.


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