Olivia Colman, left, and Jessie Buckley in “Wicked Little Letters” 2023. IMDb photo

Halfway through director Thea Sharrock and writer Jonny Sweet’s “Wicked Little Letters,” comedy of errors, old timers in London, should any still be with us, start to suspect that someone from the old Ealing Studios in London, like the casts of “The Lavender Hill Mob” and “The Lady Killers,” advised for this wonderful film.

Sharrock and Sweet are new to many of us, but of course, both have such prestigious backgrounds, it’s time you should get acquainted.

So here they are, and it’s all yours to let them get you through all of your troubles.

Olivia Colman, the belle of the new cinema, emerges here as a buttoned-up serial nut case in a family of local “crabs,” and you may be stunned to see her in the final scenes, play, as Sir Richard Burton liked to say, “to the Gallery.”

Colman tackles Edith Swan, almost in silent movie style with lots of shocked gaping mouth and big eye moments like Gloria Swanson coming down that famous cinema staircase.

Indeed, even while she has her engine in “park,” she steals scene after scene, except, when the flammable Jessie Buckley, (“Women Talking”) an Irish scene stealer, comes back to the tiny English town as Rose Gooding, at the end of “The Great War” in the 1920s and lights up all the streets.


Watching Buckley back home again with a sweet, guitar loving little girl Nancy (Alisha Weir) and Black boyfriend Bill (Malachi Kirby) come abreast of Edith, our secret scribbler, the fireworks begin.

Gooding and Swan give us a series of face offs, like Joe Frazier and Ali in the “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975.
Buckley, all sassy, blessed with a vulgar Irish mouth, and Colman with big eyes and pursed lips, start a smoky neighborhood vendetta.

These two stars abide, you see, right next door to one another.

Slowly, like Irish stew on a cold night, it all comes to a slow boil when innocent townsfolk start getting soft porn letters with dirty cockney insults in their boxes.

When the townsfolk get all shocked and riled up, and want the local “gendarmes” (Hugh Skinner “Falling for Figaro” 2020) to find and punish the offender, our Edith claims it’s our Rose Gooding.

Gooding is a natural suspect because her everyday language is the worst out of a drunken seaman’s mouth.
Gooding’s arrest involves a curious and sympathetic young woman cop, officer Gladys Moss (Anjana Vasan “We Are Lady Parts” 2021) whose question of the charges, gets her fired, so she plots a revenge that ignites the plot.


I’ll not give another word or blow the surprises away. It’s gonna be your shock to feel, amazement to enjoy, and the hour to fully enjoy watching the fun finale.

Watching Buckley and Colman joist and especially the rest of the supporting cast like Gemma Jones as Edith’s sweet mother, and then there’s the great Timothy Spall who “slightly” over acts as Rose Gooding’s father and town curmudgeon, but he’s so good you just applaud his excess.

“Wicked Little Letters” may be a small jaunt in a small English village, and not light your wick, but the folks were fun and I loved being introduced to Sharrock’s light touch and look forward to her next work. And Sweet’s handling of an old true story? An Ealing ghost in there somewhere? Maybe?

“Wicked Little Letters” now playing at Waterville Maine Film Center.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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