Swear this is a ****ing delight!

Wicked Little Letters (15, 102 minutes)

Two of my favourite actresses effing and jeffing for just over an hour and a half. What could possibly go wrong?

Well if it was exactly how it has been portrayed by stars Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley in their hi jinks laugh a minute press junket interviews on YouTube, very little.

But if you’re expecting a riotous good natured romp be warned. While there is plenty to raise a titter thanks to not one, not two, but five peerless performances, Wicked Little Letters is at it’s heart a drama filled with spite, cruelty, crushing sadness and even a touch of insanity.

Based on the long forgotten true story of a spate of potty mouthed poison pen letters that were sent in the Sussex coastal town of Littlehampton in 1920, rowdy single mum Rose Gooding (Buckley) is immediately assumed to be the culprit, her feud with pious next door neighbour Edith Swan (Coleman) resulting in her even being charged by the local constabulary.

However, where Rose is well versed in the use of expletives, the division’s only female officer, Gladys Moss believes the letters to have been written by someone with far less expertise in profanity, someone out of control whose use of swear words is governed by the appeal of their undisciplined naughtiness rather than their correct usage – like a toddler saying ****ing sh*t poo smelly ****hole for the first time – and with help from the ladies of the town’s whist club, Gladys sets about finding the real culprit to save Rose from prison and the subsequent removal of her beloved daughter by child services.

Anjana Vasan, last seen as the guitarist of a Muslim all girl rock band in the terific Channel 4 sitcom We Are Lady Parts, is a delightful, if somewhat unlikely Gladys. My great aunt Flo and uncle Curly owned the Black Horse pub in nearby Climping (which is basically one country lane leading to the sea where secret passages from 18th century smugglers caves led directly to the pub’s cellar) and Littlehampton in the early 1960s was nowhere near as diverse as it is shown here, some 40 years earlier, in the aftermath of the First World War.

Also noteworthy is a hilarious turn by Joanna Scanlan as Ann, the pig and chicken farmer who describes her own personal hygiene as “medieval”. Her tale of giving away a pig with rot to charity and obsession with her morning boiled egg are real high points.

Then there’s Tim Spall as Edith’s dour and domineering father. While every other character in the film has an air of loveable absurdity about them, there is nothing remotely light about Edward Swan. He is a menacing bully towards spinster Edith behind closed doors and if there is a real villain of the piece it is him.

But Colman and Buckley light up the screen, as is the case with everything they do, the real life friends bouncing off each other with gleeful abandon which includes an improvised flash of the Buckley buttocks, their collective charisma (that’s Olivia and Jessie, not the latter’s left and right bum cheeks) elevating Jonny Sweet’s screenplay to another level.

So if you accept this as a multi faceted, even tragic drama given the possible and actual consequences, with some outrageous comedic moments rather than a two dimensional comic farce, go fill your ****ard boots because this is ****ing wonderful!

RATING: 9/10

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk