LFF 2021: Last Night In Soho – Review

Release Date – 29th October 2021, Cert – 18, Run-time – 1 hour 57 minutes, Director – Edgar Wright

New-to-London fashion student Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) finds herself transported to 1960’s Soho at night, observing the gradually darkening life of aspiring singer Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) as the past begins to echo into the present.

We’ve become used to Edgar Wright’s taste for style and soundtrack choices to add extra flair to his films, and there’s plenty of both in his latest venture, Last Night In Soho. Yet, amongst the wonder-inducing visual style the effective sound mix of the film is not lost, further fleshing out the time-travelling confusion that central character Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) finds herself a part of. You too are taken back to 1960’s Soho to witness, alongside Wright’s love for occasional camera trickery taking the place of the fast-paced editing which he has become known for, Anya Taylor-Joy’s mysterious aspiring singer Sandie as she tries to build herself up from a backing singer on the variety stage. There’s a true open-mouthed sense of wonder as Eloise first treads into the brightly-lit past

As Sandie begins to find herself delving into a darker world which, according to Matt Smith’s boyfriend turned manager Jack, apparently comes as part of the job, her life, and indeed appearance, begins to echo into modern day London. Eloise begins to adapt her own look from the self-made clothes of a Cornish fashion student (her accent slightly wobbling at times, as does Smith’s occasional Cockney accent) to pricier 60s-inspired clothing from throwback shops. Yet, despite how well things appear to be going for Eloise in the present as she’s transported back in time, from her bed in her rented room in a scene-stealing Diana Rigg’s brilliant final role, each night things become more and more sinister for Sandie. The tone and effect of one particular revue scene as McKenzie’s character is trying to piece everything she’s missed out on during the day in a strong state of confusion matches that of the viewer. When mixed with the effectively excellent visuals there’s often a lot to bring you further into the blended world that Wright and his creative team have created.

When it comes to the elements of horror that make this stand out from Wright’s other work to date there are certainly moments which manage to establish a certain fear factor. A slight sense of fright, and even occasional terror, do line the piece. While not frequent, and not completely the dominating tone of the piece as a whole, they certainly manage to make an, even if brief, impact on key occasions during Eloise’s increasingly panicked investigation into the past that she’s becoming a part of, partly by her own choice. As things begin to blend together and the initial dreamlike nature of things turns into a nightmare for both central parties the past and present begin to support each other further. Initially the sequences of the past, with all their detail and style, feel a bit stronger than those focusing solely on Eloise. However, as we see more and the worlds further open up in various ways they begin to merge and work well together to further progress the story.

While this might occasionally lead to some more on the nose elements – including a, still kind of enjoyable, use of Dionne Warwick’s (There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me; matching a couple of other moments which could easily slip into a more comedic tone, aside from the couple of hit or miss laughs dotted throughout when compared with the tone of the rest of the film – there’s still enough to keep you engaged with the film and caught in its flow. This particularly in the build up to the various points and conclusions of the third act. It might not be to everyone’s tastes, however the style is still in place and manages to keep you engaged with the events and gives them more of an impact. It slightly steps away from the engagingly detailed 60s look, feel and style of what has come beforehand. But, still manages to work well enough to give a good conclusion to this fade from glamorous gaze of the darkening streets of Soho.

The past of Last Night In Soho is filled with strong attention to visual and audible detail that leaks into the present day scenes. Merging together for a further engaging story and world. The third act, with its more on the nose elements, might split some viewers, but its style is undeniable.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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