Last Night in Soho is a British psychological horror thriller signed by Edgar Wright, one of the great younger filmmakers whose films I like to watch – I will single out his works like Shaun of the Dead,, Scott Pilgrim the World and Baby Driver. This film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September, and after its British premiere at the London Film Festival, it reached cinematic repertoires through Universal and Focus Features.
The store is located in contemporary London and follows a young, ambitious fashion designer Eloise (Thomas McKenzie) who arrives in a metropolis from a rural area. As an introvert and an outsider, he has trouble adjusting to life in the dorm, so she leaves him and finds a modest apartment with an older woman. Unexpectedly, in the apartment, through dreams, he manages to return to the sixties of the last century, where he meets the singer Sandy (Anya Taylor Joy). Although at first glance everything looks glamorous, her dreams start to crack and turn into something much darker…
Our protagonist introduces herself as Eli so as not to sound old-fashioned, even though everything related to her is just like that – she finds solace in music that ended long before her birth and the style from that era is the inspiration for her fashion creations. We learn that her mother also wanted to be a fashion designer, that she took her own life and that Eli occasionally sees her in the mirror, which suggests to us that Ella’s mental state should not be trusted too much.
Ella’s travels into the past seem like a fantastic dream, and the filmmaker uses a cunning way to insert her, but at the same time keep her away from the world of the past. The technical aspect of these journeys revolves around the ingenious use of reflections and mirrors, as well as some not-so-clear scenes when Eli takes action even though he is only a passive observer of Sandy’s story. At first I thought the idea was for Eli to replace Sandy, but it becomes clear that the goal of her dreams is for her to feel Sandy’s bursts of emotion, excitement over the promise, as well as everything that followed when her story took a dark turn.
Edgar Wright uses his own visual style that works perfectly in his comic works, and it turns out that it also works great in a film that has no comic features. The technical elements of the film are interesting and enjoyable, starting with the design and choreography of Eloise’s dazzling dreams, which are gradually becoming a real nightmare. The combination of fantasy, thriller and Wright’s style quickly introduces us to the events of the story, but it soon becomes clear that beneath the appeal of the shallow surface there aren’t too many elements to dive into.
Ella’s story boils down to a passive exploration of past events, a half-hearted romance with a colleague, and a series of nightmares that intensify as the film progresses. Since Sandy doesn’t exist outside of Ella’s fragile mental state, I have to admit that everything together seems like a series of cheap tricks. On the other hand, Sanda’s story is predictable and superficial, but it is interesting that the film works in the sense that we do not lose attention (until the disappointing outcome), mainly because of the director’s skill to convincingly present his own nostalgic fantasies.
Last Night in Soho is a psychological thriller that is more a collection of imaginative ideas than a film adaptation of a formed creative vision – an interesting combination of technical and narrative tricks with a frustrating, unnecessary change of genres in the final third of the film.
final rating: 6/10
Last Night in Soho cast and characters
- Thomasin McKenzie as Eloise
- Diana Rigg as Ms Collins, the older Sandie
- Anya Taylor-Joy as Sandie
- Matt Smith as Jack
- Michael Ajao as John
- Terence Stamp as Lindsay
- Sam Claflin as a young Lindsay
- Rita Tushingham as Margaret “Peggy” Turner
- Synnøve Karlsen as Jocasta
- Jessie Mei Li as Lara Chung
- Pauline McLynn as Carol
- Michael Jibson as male detective
- Lisa McGrillis as female detective
- Margaret Nolan as sage barmaid
More Movie News: Finch (2021) Movie Review, Cast