An Unforgettable Night In London
Last Night In Soho is a captivating, visually striking movie, flirting the neon-lit line between thriller and horror. It never quite commits fully to either state – and it’s all the stronger for it. Gorgeously shot, and with just the right amount of mystery woven throughout, Edgar Wright’s latest flick feels like a mash-up of Black Swan and Gothika, with a dash of Hitchcockian horror thrown in for good measure.
The story predominantly centers on aspiring fashion designer Eloise, who moves from the countryside to the heart of London. She has big aspirations for what the capital will be like, having been inspired by the 1960’s she’s read so much about. Unfortunately, London is nothing like she expected.
Attending art college, Eloise immediately finds herself an outsider, surrounded by cliquey girls and alienating, claustrophobic pubs and crowded areas. With the death of her mother still hanging heavy over her (including seeing the woman’s reflection in mirrors back home), Eloise tries to fit in.
Eloise believes she’s found refuge from the crazy dorm life when she rents out an apartment. However, this soon brings about a litany of different visions, transporting Ellie back to the 1960’s every night. Confined to mirrors, Ellie watches in awe as the confident, dazzling singer Sandy struts her stuff. She has big dreams of becoming a famous singer; “I’m the next Cilla Black,” She confidently proclaims to impressed and suave businessman Jack.
This establishes a partnership that’s immediately clear to be too good to be true. While we discover more about Sandy, Eloise slowly but surely starts to lose her grip on the present day reality. From dressing up like Sandy to being consumed by haunted, faraway glances, thinking back to the night’s events, Ellie teeters on the edge of sanity. Of course, this isn’t helped by ever-more frequent hallucinations, which begin to blur the line between fiction and reality.
This descent ultimately forms the crux of the drama, which takes its time to drip-feed crucial tidbits of exposition across its 2 hour run-time.
When the final 20 minutes or so roll round, Last Night In Soho takes somewhat of a formulaic and cliched turn. There are a few surprising twists thrown in just prior to this – which work beautifully in the context of the story – but are then blanketed by a veil of obvious high-stakes tension as Eloise faces the reality of her situation.
No spoilers here of course but the film goes balls-to-the-wall for its final conflict and this, coupled with its tonally jarring final scenes that follow, feel like an odd inclusion to a picture that so defiantly feels like an arthouse picture.
Thankfully, Last Night In Soho makes up for any script and pacing shortcomings with its outstanding technical and visual design. Every scene is dripping in neon-lit splendor; the rain-soaked streets of London perfectly capture the grim but strangely beautiful setting of the capital.
Not only that, the various rotating shots, dance numbers and flits back and forth between Sandy and Eloise are striking and filmed incredibly well. As the film starts to dive into darker territory, the earlier bright colours pave way for sicky greens and reds, which aren’t actually initially obvious but soon come to dominate the picture. It’s impressive stuff and there’s no denying that this movie tells a visual story alongside what’s on the screen.
Now, there are obvious themes of reflection and idealistic expectations being played with throughout, especially given the recurring motif of puddles and mirrors, and these little gems help the geekier among us (myself included) to really pick apart the different components of this movie.
The acting from all involved is fantastic too, with Matt Smith working well to portray the role of the sleazy but suave businessman, Jack. Thomasin McKenzie does a great job as Eloise, although it’s Anya Taylor-Joy who’s the real scene-stealer here. Fresh off her excellent performance in The Queen’s Gambit, Taylor-Joy eats up every single scene she stars in, bringing this dazzling but mad enigma to life in the best possible way.
Complete with a haunting soundtrack and a good pacing, Last Night In Soho is a solid thriller, and one of the more unusual and unnerving pictures released this year. A divisive third act may throw some people off, especially those expecting a more unique or ambiguous conclusion, but it’s a minor gripe in what’s otherwise an impressively crafted movie
The ending will make or break this for you but if you can go in knowing that this is the case, Last Night In Soho will deliver a night in London you won’t forget in a hurry.
Read More: Last Night In Soho Ending Explained
Verdict - 8.5/10