Edgar Wright returns to cinema with an original story, the psychological thriller Last Night in Soho, which features outstanding performances from its principal cast members, an original premise, and a swinging 60’s soundtrack that will leave audiences stunned with its depiction of modern life in London and shining a light on its past. The entire film takes you on a whimsical journey of joy to heartbreak, to sheer terror. It is something only a director like Wright can pull off successfully and will be one that you won’t easily forget.
The story revolves around Eloise Turner (Thomasin McKenzie), a 60’s obsessed fashion student living in Cornwall and is readying herself to move to London to study fashion. She lives with her Gran (Rita Tushingham) as her Mum passed away, and she never knew her father. Eloise or Ellie is obsessed with the 1960s, listens to records, and translates to her fashion. Ellie moves to London to study fashion and the reality of life outside of her small village stars to show. She is bullied by her roommate at college, so she finds a bedsit in an old part of London that is appropriately decorated in the 60’s style she loves so much.
Ellie has a strange psychic connection to the dead, and while she has been seeing her dead mother in every mirror she passes, the bedsit offers a new ghost Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), who seems to possess Ellie every time she falls asleep. Ellie is pulled into London in the ’60s with Sandie trying to make it as a singer/dancer. Sandie’s journey of discovery with Jack (Matt Smith), who is out to help her achieve her dream (and make some money along the way!) as they drift to different clubs and we witness the emergence of abuse from Jack and the lengths that Sandie will go to for her career becomes a central part of the story. As the horrors begin unfolding, Ellie starts losing sleep, which affects her studies and sanity. If that wasn’t enough, the realisation of countless murders in this building gives Ellie a task to find the killer, who she is convinced is still alive.
One of the biggest standouts of the film is the soundtrack. It is used in spectacular fashion and stands out as a character itself. Seeing this in a cinema with Dolby Atmos really excels the experience as the thumping of Eloise by Barry Ryan combines with Wright’s kaleidoscopic visuals. The result is a sumptuous feast for the senses that barely lets up during the two-hour run time.
The camera whips around every time Sandie performs, elevating the film, blurring the lines between dreams and reality. Shining a light on 1960s London compared to how it is now, helping audiences realise it may not be so different after all.
What I really loved is how different this is from the rest of Wright’s work. Looking at his previous films like Baby Driver and Hot Fuzz, this is so wildly left of that, it is almost unrecognisable. This film feels like a huge step forward for Wright in both story and visual style. All of these are elevated by two extraordinary performances from the lead actresses. McKenzie is the perfect wide-eyed, innocent country girl who moves to the big city to seek a better life and career for herself and her Gran. As her character descends into madness, McKenzie’s performance is stunning. Taylor-Joy’s loose and confident character Sandie is the polar opposite of Ellie. Taylor-Joy brings a fun and dangerous performance that completely steals the show. It is simply captivating as the two characters acknowledge each other’s presence in the mirrors and reflections.
A lot will be said about this film after you have watched it. The film will definitely land in the love it or hate it with audiences. For me, it was entirely in love and has shot up as one of my favourite films of 2021. The enigmatic performance from its two leads, a great story that evolves spectacularly over the two-hour run time combined with electrifying visuals and a thumping soundtrack that will stay with you long after the movie is over.
Last Night In Soho is playing in cinemas on November 18.