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Wicked Little Letters is the sort of movie that used to pop up in theaters fairly often—remember The Full Monty period? Widow’s Peak? A Private Function? Waking Ned Devine?

If it had been made thirty years ago, Wicked Little Letters would have starred Maggie Smith, and we would all have been there for it and she would have not shown up at the Oscars to receive her prize, like usual.

Well you should be there for currently-in-theaters Wicked Little Letters, too, though of course it’ll be streaming in about ten minutes, so you can Knit to It soon enough (though my aunt can knit in a darkened movie theater, so there’s something to aspire to: head to the movies and clickity-clack those needles from row E. Though I think the last time she went to a movie theater was to see The Ghost and Mr. Chicken).

Based on a mostly true-ish story about a series of poison pen letters that terrorized an English town in the 1920s, Wicked Little Letters is wildly funny and dark.

It’s also a little bit sad, but then the sadness hairpins into delight whenever a character says something like “butter my wig!” which happens often enough that you hardly have time to really notice you got sad for a second.

A few high points: As usual, Olivia Colman. I mean, y’all. She gets about a billion wonderful closeups and it’s so much fun to watch her face work—you get why she really would be the perfect person to star in every single potential Dickens adaptation until time runs out (she’s already done Great Expectations). 

Second: the rest of the cast. It’s absolutely stacked: Jessie Buckley, Timothy Spall and … Eileen Atkins. Did I mention Eileen Atkins? Well, EILEEN ATKINS.

Third: there’s a linen smock-pinafore-whathaveyou Colman wears in a few scenes. You’ll know it when you see it, stripey linen with that kind of, er, what’s it called, uh, not quite lace … but something lacelike at the top.

Anyway! You can’t take your eyes off it and if JoAnn would like to emerge from bankruptcy anytime soon, they might try putting kits together for it because it’s magnificent, right up there with Meryl Streep’s The Post caftan.

Fourth, and most incredibly and deliciously: the cussing. OMG, the cussing in this movie. It’s the nature of the setup—the poison pen letters really are quite astonishingly filthy, and that’s supposedly historically accurate—and lemme tell you: it is never not jaw-dropping and hilarious when one gets read aloud.

Luckily, that happens about every ten seconds, so by the end of it, you’ll be reframing your memory of Goodfellas as if it were an animated Disney film. I’ve never been so jealous of a future closed-captioner in my life.

Really, the vocab on display here is quite something—so if a mile-wide blue streak is not your thing, Knit to Something Else. But if it IS your thing, congratulations, you’ve got about seventy-seven thousand NEW combinations of cussings to memorize! Plus, don’t forget, “butter my wig.” 

Also, there’s Eileen Atkins. Did I mention that?

P.S. Go see movies in movie theaters, or movies like this will never be in them again.

About The Author

DG Strong took up knitting in 2014. He lives in Nashville with his sister, her rat terrier and a hound dog named Opal. He has a blog of drawings and faintly ridiculous rambling called The Psychopedia—there are worse ways to spend your afternoon.


  • Thank you for recommending this hilarious film. It got some very sniffy and dismissive reviews here in the UK, which I didn’t think it deserved. Eileen Atkins – yes, of course, but also Joanna Scanlan, as well as Anjana Vasan as the police constable. In fact it’s a great ensemble piece.What’s most remarkable is that the story is based on a true incident.

  • The “something lacelike at the top” and on the pockets of Ms. Colman’s garment might be pieces of bobbin lace, sometimes called pillow lace. (Uh-oh–another textile art to beguile us!)

    • Thank you for the recommendation. Sounds like a perfect combination of actors, memorable lines and interesting costumes.

      I am really posting to share that my father-in-law always brought a book along to the movies to read during the movie. Yes, you read that correctly, he read the book during the movie. So knitting along to the movie would be perfectly acceptable. It’s not that dark in the theater.

  • Oh yes! This IS my thing.
    Perfect Spring Break movies.

    On it.

  • Jo-Ann’s in bankruptcy???!!!! I’m going today!!!… Besides that, this film seems Right Up My Alley! Thank you so much, DG!!!

  • Yes! Yes to all of it.

  • I still rewatch The Full Monty when I desperately need a good laugh! This movie sounds right up my alley, I hope it plays around here somewhere. I may have to go to the big city….

  • The movie is great and, as usual, DG Strong is hilarious. Thanks for a good Sunday morning laugh!

  • Bravo! Thank you DG for the review, which is spot on. Agreed on seeing it in the theater so Hollywood will keep making these – as long as you keep writing your critiques:-).

  • Just saw it last night! New favorite, and I’m not much of a cusser!

  • You brought back a wonderful memory of my German-born grandmother bundling all of her grandchildren together and setting of to the movie theater with her knitting in a large tapestry-like bag. The clicking of her metal needles accompanied the movie soundtrack. It’s something the cousins all still talk about when we get together. We are now in our 60s and 70s! Thank you!

  • Just saw this last night and LOVED it. For all of the reasons cited. The frocks! The 1920s silhouettes, yes Colman’s wonderful linen pinafore… BUT, also Buckley’s gauzy, sheer, drape-y, not quite distressed but well-worn, white and ditzy floral printed dresses and that gray coat! A divine wardrobe. The faces of the two actresses in close up together, Colman, restrained, prim, with an inner insanity bubbling to the surface, and Buckley, tomboyish flirty, sexy-cute, both with such depth. A hilarious, poignant, feast for the eyes film. Only thing missing… a couple of handknit sweaters. Amy Christopher’s Felix Cardi (I’ve made two) comes to mind. Delicious!

    • Yeah, there are a lot of good costuming details in this one. And I wanted everything in Anjana Vasan’s house.

  • We saw this movie yesterday afternoon and while it is all the things DJ mentioned, it’s also about abuse and psychological illness, so be aware.

    • I said dark and sad, too!

  • Great read with my first cuppa. I am always down for movies with Olivia Colman and cussing to boot? Well, I may learn to knit with popcorn buttered fingers for this one!! Thanks for the wake-up, DG.

  • If you Google butter my wig you’ll find a blog post from the forensic genealogist with references to lots of sources of Sussex dialect some of which look pretty fun. Thanks for another promising recommendation!

  • Thanks DG! I was going to dismiss this as another period piece of amusing Britishness but it sounds like a wild ride! Also totally here for the linen.

    • It’s not NOT that, to be honest, and I did leave out mentioning that it swerves a little close to a movie cliché I have an almost chemical allergy to: rapping (or in this case, cussing) grannies. But it gets the balance right, mostly because it’s true-ish, I think.

  • I LOVE reading anything you write, Mr. Strong.

  • I LOVE reading anything you write, Mr. Strong. And yet again this comment is not posted because I already did it, Not

  • I do knit in movies and I can’t wait to see this! Thanks for the review.

  • “There have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm”

  • Now that sounds like my kind of movie !
    No aliens !
    No murders !
    Thanks for the tip

  • Loved loved this film, so funny yet at times so sad.

  • Great girlfriend outing, thanks!

  • Everything you said is spit on. I saw it yesterday. I am a person who never swears and I loved every moment.
    It should not be missed.

  • I went and saw this due to DG’s review. It was so good, based on true story. Funny but dark and also a little sad in parts. It makes me want to do some digging about this story. Edith’s “lace” reminds me of spiderwebs.

  • Actually, a captioned performance is being offered at our local theater tomorrow at 1 pm. Unfortunately, my husband has an appointment then, so we’ll be stuck with hearing the cussing with our own ears. Needs must

  • I took my teens to see the new Marvel Kong movie this week and took my knitting with me! Our cinema has comfy reclining seats and decent coffee. I made good, uninterrupted progress on a vanilla sock!

  • Can’t wait to see this. Thank you for the recommendation. You always pick the best!

  • I foresee a visit to the theatre. There may be popcorn involved. And sock knitting. Maybe a date.

  • Oh First the trailer did make me laugh but “butter my wig” well I am not sure what that would translate to for us but I just love it. Thank you for sharing.

  • Just saw this. I do not like movies with a lot of swearing but this one is hilarious! The characters are fantastic!!

  • Thank you, DG. My dear sister-in-law recently gifted me movie theater tickets! This sounds like the perfect way to use them. Perhaps a rainy Thursday or Friday?
    Time to get away….

  • Love your witty reviews! Looking forward to seeing it!

  • Can’t wait to see it! Always LOVE your columns

  • You, DG, are f*c&ing hilarious!

  • You got my attention when you mentioned “Waking Ned Divine,” a fabulous movie for those that have not seen it. This sounds so fun, thank you! And I love your recommendations here, you’ve led me to a lot of good ones!

  • I’m looking forward to seeing this. Olivia Colman should be in everything!

  • OMG, I loved this movie. While I don’t usually find continuous cussing funny, it is essential to this story. Such a hoot and a definite must see!
    I’m glad you agree, DG!

  • Thank you. I just got home from the movie theater and I loved it!

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