Directed by : Edgar Wright
Written by : Edgar Wright, Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Starring : Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Michael Ajao, Terrence Stamp, and Diana Riggs.
After the success of Baby Driver, Edgar Wright teams up with Academy Award nominee Krysty Wilson-Cairns with a Hitchcockian, neon-glazed psychological thriller that switches from present-day to 1960s London.
Wright is known for his upbeat, stylistic, and wholesome movies from his Cornetto-trilogy, to full-on video-game extravaganza in Scott Pilgrim Against the World. But within the last few years he’s been evolving as a filmmaker, venturing out of his usual genres, and now we have a very stylistic yet slow-burn psychological thriller.
Last Night in Soho follows small-town girl Eloise (played by Thomasin McKenzie) as she goes to London for university. As she finds the excess of the big city too much to bear, she finds a new apartment to rent, and low-and-behold — she relives the life of a 1960s showgirl, Sandie (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) and every time she goes to sleep and finds herself becoming too entrenched in the showgirl’s past life.
Soho’s most inviting element is its incredibly unique premise — the idea of a character living the life of someone in the past as she goes to sleep is riveting, but it is Wright’s execution of the premise — by having a such a lovable lead to navigate through the ghostly narrative — that makes it such a pleasure to watch. Chung-hoon Chung‘s cinematography is also a driving force of the movie, much like how our main protagonist is entrenched by 1960’s London, Chung’s neon-streaked frames transports us to pre-pandemic Soho, making Soho a character itself with its contrasty wet asphalt and the iridescently-lit windows that makes it a wonder to behold.
A slow-burn is definitely an apt description for Last Night in Soho, but it is by design, and it’s what I’d call a pleasant slow-burn due to Wright and Wilson Cairn’s ability to make Soho so lived-in and organic — that you find yourself becoming invested in the city itself and the seemingly inconsequential characters that populate it. The story refuses to waste Eloise as a mere audience surrogate who is set on rails to unravel the mystery and instead commits to her character-arc which might derail the narrative’s pacing.
While the twists and turns of Soho aren’t all that inventive, it still makes for an entertaining ride because you are in it with characters that you are invested in and every time something spooky or haunting pops on screen — you’re not only scared for yourself, but you find yourself caring for the character’s wellbeing and whether or not they’ll survive every time they get attacked by the haunting ghosts of the past (which looked like a hybrid of a dementor and that perverted creep that sits at the dark corner of your local bar).
Thomasin McKenzie shines as Eloise through her very vulnerable, lovable yet spunky performance that makes you heavily invested in her journey and makes you want to see her succeed, despite the ghastly inconveniences that troubles her throughout the 1 hour and 56 minute runtime. Michael Ajao plays a loyal, wholesome friend to Eloise that find yourself rooting for just because of how sweet his character is, and the late Diana Riggs plays Eloise’s landlord that carries a surprising amount of layered-grit within her character. Last but not least, Anya Taylor-Joy as Sandie brings a sense of tragicness to her character that becomes somewhat of a cautionary tale to McKenzie’s Eloise.
Last Night in Soho will win audiences alone with its atmospheric cinematography alone, but it is the main character’s journey that truly propels this neon-filled spooky narrative into something special.
Last Night in Soho is now Available in Theaters.