Last night in soho

Stars: 4.5/5

To me, Edgar Wright’s love letter to London in the 1960s, “Last Night in Soho,” was psychological horror presented as glossy pop art. By panning away from his signature lightning-fast editing and irreverent humor, Wright’s new film serves as his first filmic foray into a genre outside of action and comedy. The end result is a dreamy, glamorously filmed, neon-lit nightmare that I loved it from start to finish.

“Last Night in Soho” follows Eloise “Ellie” Turner, played by Thomasin McKenzie, an aspiring and ambitious young woman with a love for old music and the 60s, who departs from her sleepy British village and moves to London to follow her dreams as a fashion designer at a university. Seen as an outsider by her classmates, Ellie moves to an apartment in Soho where she is then plagued by visions of a wannabe singer named Sandie, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, from the 1960s every time she falls asleep. The dreams are alluring at first until Ellie discovers that the dazzling colors and fashion of the 1960s hold deadly secrets and even deadlier consequences for her and Sandie.

Long live the Giallo!

Inspired by the works of Stanley Kubrick and Nicolas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now” (1973), the film is a psychological thriller and mystery movie through and through, but there’s plenty more to it. Presented with true sincerity and urgency, this is by far Wright’s most mature film to date. Featuring female leads instead of male principal characters, a first for the director, he and co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns marvelously explore themes of the male gaze, harsh treatment of women, and the oppressiveness of male-led industries. It’s vigorously feminist in the best way possible while interlaced with a dark and twisted mystery.

Speaking of the mystery, the story itself is a tad bit predictable from time to time. It’s entirely engaging and kept my attention for the whole runtime, but there were certain plot points and story elements that could be reminiscent of a Disney Channel movie. Despite its predictability, there was always some neat and unexpected twist up Wright’s sleeve that that put my half-correct predictions to bed.

Also, I can’t talk about “Last Night in Soho” without mentioning the knockout performances from two leading women. They are simply fantastic with both performers proving that they are among the best leading ladies in the industry. After starring in this year’s “Old,” McKenzie owns the role as Ellie and Taylor-Joy is equally impressive as her stunning counterpart and idol from the 1960s, with each bringing out delicate and sinister chemistries in the other. The supporting cast is also well-rounded too with Matt Smith, Terence Stamp, Michael Ajao and the late Diana Rigg (whom the film is dedicated to) giving tremendous performances.

I need to also shout out cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon whose swiveling camerawork might be the best part of this whole picture. He weaves in the director’s famous style of fast cuts, whip pans, and dolly shots with all the grace of a ballroom dance. It’s electric!

Simply put, Edgar Wright’s “Last Night in Soho” is a deliriously good time at the theater with a story that, while formulaic, should be rendered as a classic of feminist cinema. From the recreation of 1960s London, the banging soundtrack, stunning visuals and beautiful designer clothes, this Giallo is a relevant and highly recommendable thriller. Wright’s first dip into horror is awesome with some truly stunning and colorful choreography, a few good scares and a superb swan song for Diana Rigg to boot.

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