I have to start by saying, I love Edgar Wright, from the early days of the TV series Spaced to the Cornetto Trilogy movies and Scott Pilgrim to Baby Driver. I miss the days of his early stuff, with the cool editing and more comic book feel to what he made, but I still like him.
One of the other contributors for the Last Movie Outpost said they turned Last Night In Soho off and called it a snoozefest, and I was a little worried. As I say, I love Wright’s early stuff and Baby Driver was a great movie, but it wasn’t the same style as Hot Fuzz for example.
Now that Last Night in Soho is on streaming, I gave it a go, so here’s my review.
The movie stars Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, Michael Ajao and Terrance Stamp. The plot blurb is:
An aspiring fashion designer is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters a dazzling wannabe singer. But the glamour is not all it appears to be and the dreams of the past start to crack and splinter into something darker.
I’m going to give you the main story, but not really spoil anything.
Last Night in Soho starts off with Ellie (McKenzie) dancing around her room, in her own designed clothes, to 60s music. As she is dancing, she looks in the mirror and sees her mother, but this is only a vision or maybe her imagination. She then learns that she’s going to London to study fashion. She leaves her grandmother and heads to the big city.
When there, it’s not all she hoped it would be, it’s scary, the people aren’t nice, and she feels alone. She ends up moving to a flat, owned by an old lady (Rigg) and this is where the story really starts.
As she falls asleep, she ‘dreams’ that she is in London in the Swinging 60s. As she’s walking through the bright lights, she sees herself as Sandie (Taylor-Joy). Sandie is in London to make it big, the next Cilla Black (for our US outposters, Cilla was huge in the 60s, below is a statue of her outside the Cavern Club, where she was good friends with The Beatles).
Sandie meets Jack (Smith), a promoter who can help her achieve her dream. Jack seems great and really wants to help her out. Ellie wakes up and imagines it was all just a dream, but she has a hickie on her neck, which Jack gave to Sandie.
As their lives become more intertwined, the more Ellie learns that Sandie’s life isn’t as glamorous as she hoped. If Sandie wants to make it big, she’s going to have to keep certain men happy, and we see the seedy underside of London’s Soho.
This is only part of the story, the first act and part of act two. I read that Wright was asking people not to spoil the third act in Last Night in Soho, so I won’t. What I will say though is, the story is fantastic, and it slowly becomes a horror movie. I felt very satisfied at the end with the way the whole thing played out.
The cast is amazing in this. I love McKenzie anyway, but she is superb in this, you are with her as she slowly descends into madness. Taylor-Joy, who I can’t say I’m a huge fan of, is still excellent. She enters London, full of hopes and dreams, and we watch them slowly slip away. Smith is great, a very underrated actor, and I won’t spoil anything about him.
There’s a young lad, John (Ajao) who tries to help Ellie from the start, and he was excellent as well. I honestly couldn’t fault the cast. I will say though, there are places where you can guess who’s who and what’s what, but this doesn’t distract from the main story.
Being a Wright movie, the Last Night in Soho soundtrack is feckin’ awesome! I’m a fan of all kinds of music, and the classic 60s music is spot on, but at the same time, doesn’t feel ‘old’, it fits the movie perfectly. I will be buying the soundtrack to listen to it more, as I did with Baby Driver.
I said I was fearful of Wright going more normal with his movies and moving away from his comic book style. In Last Night in Soho, he shows his style, but in a different way… this is going to be hard to explain. There is an excellent moment where Jack and Sandie are dancing in a club. All in one shot, Jack switches between Sandie and Ellie, and it’s cut together perfectly! It’s an incredibly simple, but complex shot.
The other piece of brilliance is the reflections in the mirrors. Again, it’s very simple and understated, but you see Sandie, but in the reflections you see Ellie. Sometimes you don’t notice it, but it’s there. The attention to detail is amazing. The editing is exceptional as well, but I expect that from Wright.
Overall I give Last Night in Soho 4.5 out of 5. It loses half a star because I need to see it again, to catch how clever it actually is. I think, with a second viewing, it would be a 5-star movie. And I will be watching it again, it’s excellent work.
The movie may hold more attention for British viewers since it is set in London. I mean, I don’t remember London in the 60s, but I have seen the movies about it and heard stories from my parents. That’s not to say anyone outside the UK won’t enjoy this, you will.
It’s a really well-told story, that I have barely scratched the surface of and that third act, is excellent! This is easily in my top five movies of this year.
You can rent Last Night in Soho on streaming services now.