Showing posts with label British Films. Show all posts
Showing posts with label British Films. Show all posts

Thursday, April 11, 2024

"Wicked Little Letters," "Saltburn" and "Book of Love:" It's British Movie Week!

[I review three British films: "Wicked Little Letters," "Saltburn" and "Book of Love"]

When the residents of Littlehampton, England start receiving anonymous insulting and profane poison pen letters, Rose, the less than proper newcomer from Ireland, is blamed.  But is she really the culprit?

It's the 1920's in the small town of Littlehampton, England, and it's Edith Swan (Olivia Colman), who first receives profane and bullying letters (remember when we wrote letters?  Now we can just bully people online).  

Edith is a pious spinster living with her controlling father, Edward (Timothy Spall), and her mother Victoria (Gemma Jones). After receiving 19 letters filled with profanities, Edward contacts the local police accusing their next-door neighbor, Rose Gooding (Jesse Buckley), of sending the letters.  Rose is an easy target because the Swans do not approve of Rose.  Where they are very religious and upright, Rose has no problem doing what she pleases, telling people off when she feels like it using some choice profane words, living with a man who is not her husband, having loud sex, and drinking and carrying on in the pub. Rose and Edith started out as friends but after Rose headbutted one of Edward's guests at his birthday party and refused to apologize, their friendship ended. And truth be told, Rose isn't that easy to like.  

So Rose is arrested and not being able to come up with bail is sent to Portsmouth Prison to await trial, leaving her young daughter, Nancy (Alisha Weir), in the care of her partner, Bill (Malachi Kirby).

In the meantime, police officer, Gladys Moss (Anjana Vasan) is not so sure that Rose is the culprit and gets involved in the case, despite the fact that her boss, Chief Constable Spedding (Paul Chahidi) forbids her to. Let's just say that women police officers in the 1920's didn't get much respect, but Gladys's father was a police officer and she can't help herself.  She believes an injustice is being done.  She enlists the help of  Edith's friends - Ann (Joanna Scanlan), Mabel (Eileen Atkins) and Kate (Lolly Adefope) - and they all take on the case. Mabel and Ann like Rose and don't think she is guilty so they bail Rose out of the prison and, with Gladys, set out to prove her innocence.

Though I figured out who the letter-writer was way before it was revealed on screen, it didn't matter, because watching the story, written by Jonny Sweet and directed by Thea Sharrock, unfold was a delight.  Thank goodness for the Brits and these "little movies" they are able to produce, full of recognizable character actors and interesting stories.  Olivia Colman is wonderful, as expected, and though Jesse Buckley might not be a name you recognize, she is a veteran actress who made a big splash in "Wild Rose" in 2018, starred in Season 4 of the TV series "Fargo,"  and more recently in the movie "Women Talking." The two together are a wonderful treat.

The film is quirky and fun and actually based on a true story that made national news in England in the early part of the 20th century, but it's also a reminder of what women have gone through in a patriarchal world. Gladys is always referred to as "Woman Police Officer Moss" by her male fellow officers, a passive-aggressive put-down of her role, and Rose is targeted because she doesn't fit the mold of obedient housewife, instead living life on her own terms.  If she doesn't fit the mold, she must be guilty of something, right?

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are tired of superheroes and horror films, take a break and check out the comedy and drama in Littlehampton.  You won't be disappointed. (In theatres) 

Saltburn (2023)

Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan) is a seemingly shy, awkward Oxford student who is befriended by Felix Catton (Jacob Elordi), a handsome charismatic classmate, who invites him to Saltburn, his family's estate, for the summer and it turns out to be a summer of death and destruction.

Oliver Quick is having a difficult time fitting in at Oxford.  He is a poor kid amidst England's elite, but when he meets Felix Catton, a rich, popular student and shares his story about growing up poor, his parents' substance abuse and mental health issues, Felix is sympathetic.  Then when Oliver tells Felix that his father has died, Felix invites him for the summer at his family's country estate, Saltburn. Oliver is over the moon because he is obsessed with Felix. And then he wants to be him.

At Saltburn, Oliver meets Felix's parents, Sir James (Richard E. Grant) and Lady Elspeth (Rosamund Pike); Felix's sister, Venetia (Alison Oliver); Elspeth's friend, Poor Dear Pamela (Carey Mulligan); and Felix's American cousin, Farleigh (Archie Madekwe).  Oliver is welcomed into the family, and Elspeth is especially taken with him, but Farleigh is suspicious. All is well until Felix discovers that Oliver is not all that he seems and the summer turns deadly. Years later, the truth about what happened that summer at Saltburn comes out.

Written and directed by Emerald Fennell, who also wrote and directed "Promising Young Woman (she won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay)," this is a tale of class and social climbing that is reminiscent of "The Talented Mr. Ripley," a story that has been the plot of many films but here there is much more kinky stuff going on, particularly the scenes where Oliver...well, Oliver does all kinds of deviant stuff.  The bathtub scene and the one on the grave are particularly cringey. You will have to see for yourself. If you saw "Promising Young Woman," you know that Fennell is not afraid to "go there."

The acting ensemble is first rate with veteran actors Grant and Pike. Pike is particularly mean-spirited in a funny upper class way. Fans of the recent movie, "Priscilla," will recognize the handsome Elordi as Elvis in that and here he effortlessly again plays an object of desire.  But this is Keoghan's film as he goes from adoration of Felix to envy and resentment and reveals the real Oliver. His Oliver exudes both subservient charm and weird creepiness. And a shout-out to production designer Suzie Davies and cinematographer, Linus Sandgren.  The film is beautiful to look at.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a stylish (and kinky) gothic thriller that satirizes class and social climbing. (Amazon Prime) 

Book of Love (2022)

A British novelist whose book is not selling in the U.K. discovers that it is a big hit in...Mexico!  When he travels there to do a book tour, he discovers why.

Henry Copper (Sam Claflin) is an uptight Englishman who has written a novel called "The Sensible Heart," which is a romance novel, but it lacks passion, as in no sex.  Therefore, no one wants to read it. But then Henry's publisher, Jen (Lucy Punch), tells him that his book is number one --- in Mexico.  Henry has no social media skills, so his publisher says that he needs to go to Mexico to promote the book.

When he arrives, Henry meets Maria (Veronica Echegui), the person who translated his book, and she and the Mexican publisher, Pedro (Horacio Villalobos), along with her son, Diego (Ruy Gaytan), and grandfather, Max (Fernando Becerril), take Henry on a three-city tour with Maria acting as Henry's translator. After getting over his culture shock, Henry is enthusiastically welcomed at the book signings, especially by avid female fans, but Henry is confused because everyone is talking about sex. His book is NOT about sex, or so he thought.  But, ahem, now it is. And he is perceived as a sort of love guru by his fans. It turns out that Maria has not only translated Henry's book, she has rewritten it, transforming it into a steamy, bodice-ripping romance novel! 

This is a good old-fashioned opposites attract rom-com written by Analeine Cal y Mahor and David Quantick and directed by Cal y Mahor. Maria is a no-nonsense Latina who has always wanted to write and Henry is a buttoned-up Brit.  She has had a hard life serving men in a neighborhood bar and putting her own dreams aside and she resents what she perceives as Henry's easy life. And Henry is a kind of clueless prude who needs loosening up.  But after lots of arguments and misunderstandings, and some interference from Maria's ex, Antonio (Horacio Garcia Rojas), Henry does loosen up and the two create a romance of their own. 

The handsome Claflin recently starred in "Daisy Jones and the Six" and once again plays a brooding leading man but this time an uncool one. Echegui reminded me of a young Penelope Cruz. She is engaging and likable, and the two create a charming little fish-out-of-water love story that is fun to watch.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a rom-com fan, this is a sweet, satisfying one with an interesting premise. (Amazon Prime - in English and Spanish)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

More Good Movies You Might Not Know About

[I review M. Night Shyamalan's latest film "Knock at the Cabin" as well as two British films: "The Phantom of the Open" and "Love Sarah."]

Knock at the Cabin (2023)

Eric (Jonathan Groff) and Andrew (Ben Aldridge) are on vacation with their daughter, Wen (Kristen Cui), at a remote cabin when there is an ominous knock on the door.  Uh-oh.

This is one of those "What if...?" movies as in what if you were having a nice vacation in a cabin in the woods - just you and your husband and your daughter - and four people knock on the door and then force their way into your life and tell you that if you don't decide to kill one of your family members, the world will end.

That's a big "what if...?" right?

Well, that's what is happening here. 

Eric and Andrew are on vacation in a remote cabin with their adopted daughter, Wen.  While Wen is outside capturing grasshoppers "to study," she is approached by a man who introduces himself as Leonard (Dave Bautista).  But after awhile he gives Wen the creeps and she sees three other strangers carrying weapons.  She runs inside to tell her dads about the man.  But before anyone can do anything, Leonard and the three others are knocking on the door and eventually break it down.  

Along with Leonard, we meet Redmond (Rupert Grint), Adriane (Abby Quinn) and Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird).  They have come to tell Eric and Andrew that the world will come to an end if they don't decide to sacrifice one of their family members. Naturally, Eric and Andrew say, "" But then Eric and Andrew are tied up as Leonard tells his doomsday story.

Leonard tells Eric and Andrew that they are not there to kill them, but if they don't make this sacrifice, they will live but will roam the earth alone after the rest of humanity has perished.  Leonard turns on the TV to show Eric and Andrew what is happening in the world - first a tsunami hits the West Coast, then a virus, then airplanes start falling from the sky. Is any of this true? Is it a conspiracy?  What will Eric and Andrew decide?

Leonard's menacing physique belies the fact that he is actually a gentle giant, a second grade teacher who has joined forces with Sabrina, who was a nurse and Adriane and Redmond (not sure what they did before becoming weapon-wielding prophets of doom), all of whom have had the same apocalyptic visions.

Through a series of flashbacks we get to know more about Eric and Andrew and the others, and the film briefly deals with same-sex marriage and hints at the discrimination that gays have experienced but it doesn't really go there. I wish it had explored that more.

Based on the book "The Cabin at the End of the World" by Paul Tremblay and directed by M. Knight Shyamalan (who also wrote the screenplay with Michael Sherman and Steve Desmond), Shyamalan is good at these kinds of horror films with preposterous plots.  Shyamalan has a knack for creating tension and making you question reality, so despite the outrageousness of the premise, I was hooked and it was tense.  I mean, really?  Is this for real? What is going to happen? 

Rosy the Reviewer says...yes, it's a crazy premise and sometimes the film is almost laughable, but, at the same time, it is gripping and makes us wonder, just what would we do to save others and that is the kind of movie that becomes a cult classic. (On DVD and for rent on Amazon Prime)

The Phantom of the Open (2021)

Maurice Flitcroft, a complete novice golfer, manages to get himself into the qualifying round of the 1976 British Open. True story.

No, I did not do a typo.  This was not meant to be "Phantom of the Opera."  It really is "Phantom of the Open," and it's all about a guy who couldn't play golf to save his life, but somehow he managed to get himself into the British Open ...and not once, but six times... using pseudonyms and disguises.

Maurice (the Brits pronounce this "Morris") Flitcroft (Mark Rylance) is a retired crane operator who needs to find purpose.  He had never attempted to play golf before but after seeing a clip of Tom Watson winning the British Open in 1975, just like that, he decides to take up golf and enter the 1976 British Open.  And through a fluke, he gets himself in as a professional and scores 121, the worst score every recorded at the Open by a so-called "professional golfer." 

Based on the book "The Phantom of the Open: Maurice Flitcroft, The World's Worst Golfer," written by Scott Murray and Simon Farnaby (screenplay by Farnaby), this is based on a true story - yes, Maurice Flitcroft was a real guy. 

After the initial debacle that Flitcroft caused at the 1976 Open, the Open did what they could to keep Flitcroft out, but he continued to try to enter and often succeeded by using fake names like Gene Paycheki, Gerrard Hoppy, James Beau Jolley, Arnold Palmtree and Count Manfred von Hoffmanstel and by wearing disguises.  But despite his ineptitude as a golfer, he gained fame, or rather notoriety as "The World's Worst Golfer" and had the distinction of a golf tournament named after him in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Oh, those crazy Michiganders!

Directed by Craig Roberts, this is an enjoyable movie that pokes fun at the stuffy aspects of golf and shows where there's a will, there's a way, as Maurice doggedly follows his dream. Mark Rylance, one of those actors who can do anything and be anyone, embodies the ever optimistic Flitcroft, and likewise, Sally Hawkins as Maurice's loyal and supportive wife, Jean, is perfect.  If Maurice was the world's worst golfer, his wife Jean was the world's best wife.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a feel good movie that golfers will especially like. (Amazon Prime)

Love Sarah (2020)

When her mother is tragically killed right before realizing her dream of opening a bakery in London, 19-year-old Clarissa decides that with the help of her mother's best friend, Isabella, and her grandmother, Mimi, she will open the bakery herself.

Baker Sarah (Candice Brown) and her friend, Isabella (Shelley Conn), were going to open a bakery in London, but Sarah is killed cycling to her new bakery and Isabella is left holding the financial bag.  Not a confident baker herself, she decides to give up and sell the store until Sarah's daughter, Clarissa (Shannon Tarbet), talks her into going ahead with the bakery. Clarissa is a wannabe ballerina with some bad habits who has just broken up with her boyfriend.  She enlists the help of her grandmother, Mimi (Celia Imrie), a retired trapeze artist (I know, where did that come from?), not an easy feat since she has been estranged from her.

At first the women struggle to find their footing, but Mimi hones in on the idea of creating pastries and desserts that honor the diverse Notting Hill population, to give them a taste of home.  You want a Kringle from your home country of Denmark?  Sure, you got it!  Want a Japanese cake?  They will figure out how to make it!

Enter Sarah's ex-boyfriend, the handsome Mathew (Rupert Penry-Jones), who just happens to know how to bake and might just be Clarissa's father.  And there is even some romance for Mimi when inventor Felix (the veteran actor, Bill Paterson) enters the picture.

All of these characters come together to form a community. Wounds are healed as these three women of three different generations grapple with their grief and differences to honor Sarah. They name the bakery after her - Love Sarah.

All of the cast members are excellent, especially Celia Imrie, who is one of those ubiquitous British actresses who you recognize but you don't know her name (right now she is starring in the Netflix series "The Diplomat" and the movie "Love Again.")

Written by Jake Brunger (story by Mahalia Rimmer, Eliza Schroeder and Brungerand directed by Schroeder, this is one of those small heart-felt movies that the Brits are so good at.

Rosy the Reviewer of the Great British Baking Show (aka "The Great British Bake Off") will particularly enjoy this (the Sarah of the title - Candice Brown - who is briefly seen at the beginning of the film, is one of the real life winners).  It's a film as sweet as the pastries made in the bakery and just like eating a delicious macaron, you will feel good after seeing this film. (Amazon Prime)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to like it and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites; email it to your friends and/or follow me on Facebook at 

And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)