Last Night in Soho – Movie Review

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Rating: A- (Great)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

Edgar Wright’s film career has largely consisted of action comedies, often times about male characters finding themselves in outlandish situations. Last Night in Soho offers a departure for Wright as he crafts a horror film with a young woman at its centre. With her love for the 1960s, nostalgia becomes the main theme of the film as she transports back in time to Swinging London. It’s an intriguing set-up for a horror movie and he successfully takes her on a journey with many creative sights and sounds. While one can certainly see the influence from films like Repulsion and even Somewhere in Time, Wright and co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns also bring us an original story with plenty of fun turns.

It doesn’t take long into Last Night in Soho to be invested in Eloise’s story and sympathetic towards her as she deals with moving to the big city. The film properly introduces her nostalgia for classic records of the ‘60s and how that inspires her fashion design choices. Thomasin McKenzie continues to prove herself a rising talent with her performance, which captures Eloise’s nervousness with what happens to her. The story really picks up and takes on new life when she winds up seeing 1960s London through the eyes of Anya Taylor-Joy’s Sandie. The way Wright uses mirrors is very clever and the production team has done a fantastic job of transporting the audience back in time along with Eloise.

Even with Wright going giddy with the period details, he also shows the dangers and dark side of nostalgia and how an earlier time isn’t necessarily as rosy as we might think. He’s able to show the struggles Sandie goes through and the impact this has on Eloise. McKenzie does an exceptional job of showing the way this experience changes her and her mental state as she tries to unravel the mystery. The use of visuals is a particular high point. Director of photography Chung Chung-hoon knows how to use the setting and especially colours to heighten the horror Eloise witnesses.

The set-pieces are expertly directed and paced by Wright, with Paul Machliss deserving credit for how he edits them together. Enhancing the experience is Steven Price’s score, which gives the appropriate vibe as Eloise walks through London, both past and present. Wright’s encyclopaedic knowledge of songs from different eras comes in handy, too, especially in highlighting Eloise’s musical taste. His reverence for classic British cinema is also evident in his casting, as he makes great use of Terence Stamp, Rita Tushingham and the late Diana Rigg. Meanwhile, Matt Smith turns in an unsettling performance as the man Sandie takes a fancy to.

As enjoyable and highly inventive as Edgar Wright’s previous films are, it’s great to see him take such a departure and show he’s capable of a lot more than people assume. Last Night in Soho takes the time travel concept in many fascinating directions, successfully portraying Eloise’s evolution through this whole ordeal. It’s an engaging tale with plenty of the thrills one would hope from a horror film, but also a lot of intrigue and Wright and Wilson-Cairns keep the plot moving. Last Night in Soho represents a bold new step for a director who has proven himself a unique talent.

Stefan Ellison


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