KSL MOVIE SHOW

KSL Movie Show review: ‘Wicked Little Letters’ is offensive and it’s mostly hilarious

Apr 5, 2024, 8:00 AM | Updated: 9:12 am

Steve Salles takes a look at Wicked Little Letters....

Editor’s note: This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — Question: Why is it that British cursing always sounds more gentile than American cursing?

Maybe it’s the accent or the nastiness hiding behind the courteous manner, but somehow it often softens the verbal blow – but not always. 

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There is no getting around the stiff language exuded in “Wicked Little Letters” even though it comes from the lovely mouths or pens of Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, and others.

It’s ripe. It’s offensive. And it’s mostly hilarious (unless bad words are your kryptonite – then this is one British comedy you might want to skip).

I’m told this is actually based on a true story, but the opening title suggests, “This is more true than you’d think.”

So, rough poetic license may have been included.

Set in 1920’s Littlehampton, England, religiously devout, unmarried Edith Swan (Olivia Colman) shares a home with her domineering father Edward (Timothy Spall) and her kindly mother Victoria (Gemma Jones) in a row house where the next-door neighbor is a wild Irish gal Rose Gooding (Jessie Buckley).  

Edith has been the recipient lately of a number of vulgar letters (19 to be exact) and she and her sainted family have finally had enough. They contact the police, who arrive to read the letters and immediately accuse neighbor Rose of having written them. 

After all, she certainly fits the bill of someone who would be so crass as to write this unspeakable filth, but Rose insists that while she had some ill will toward her neighbors, she would rather say it to their faces and not bother to write it all down. 

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The local constable is not convinced, Rose is hauled off to jail, where she will await trial for her crimes and because she’s so poor, she can’t afford bail. Keep in mind, she has a daughter Nancy who will have to stay with Rose’s boyfriend until they hopefully can sort this whole mess out.

In the meantime, a new female officer, Gladys Moss (Anjana Vasan), whose father was a legendary policeman back in the day, begins to dig deeper into the case, comparing handwriting (which was unheard of back then), trying to prove Rose’s innocence. 

Most everyone in the village certainly knew Rose had the capability and irresponsibility to lash out at her uptight neighbors, but she was also very honest and would readily admit when she made a mistake – and this was not one of those times. 

Other ladies in the area also believed Rose-Ann, Mabel and Kate.

They will assist Officer Moss in trying to catch the real letter writer, as perhaps she posts the foul epistles in a nearby mailbox. It’s all very cat and mouse, but to my dismay, they reveal the culprit much too soon, taking away the mystery, even as the trial is about to begin. 

But on the other hand, having such great actors going at each other, however briefly, is worth the price of admission.

“Wicked Little Letters” may not be the best little British comedy to come along, but it will certainly do, until another great one does. 

WICKED LITTLE LETTERS (B) Rated R for language throughout and sexual material. Starring Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Timothy Spall, Anjana Vasan and Gemma Jones. Directed by Thea Sharrock (“Me Before You”) filmed in Arundel and Worthing, England. Running time: 100 minutes.

The KSL Movie Show with Andy Farnsworth and Steve Salles airs Fridays on KSL NewsRadio from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Follow the show on Facebook, and join The KSL Movie Show Club for exclusive perks by texting MOVIE to 57500.

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KSL Movie Show review: ‘Wicked Little Letters’ is offensive and it’s mostly hilarious