Synopsis: 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. (IMDB)
Edgar Wright is at the top of his game in this thriller about a young fashion design student in London who falls into a brilliant neo-noir thriller herself. Last Night In Soho is a movie that draws you in so fully that the walls in the theater feel like they’re tainted with the thrills and sins of yesteryear as well. I thought this film was a genuine visual lecture on brilliant, masterful cinema.
Last Night is Soho structures itself stoically on the bones of classic cinema. In classical cinema most often the story is only a thin layer that glues the elements of the movie together. The value is in deciphering the lines and the choices by the director to move the story forward in dazzling and creative ways. For example, in Eloise’s (Thomasin Mckenzie) new apartment there is a mysterious blue and red light shining from outside the window. That element at its surface is a streetlight or some other element polluting Eloise’s room however as the story goes on the lights change, they speed up their alterations to keep up with the energizing beat of the story. Sometimes they blink only red to indicate a scene of violence or peril for Eloise. This same strategy was used throughout the film in a masterful way. I will write about those elements and more about the story here!
Last Night In Soho is film that lets itself go when Eloise (ThomasinMcKenzie) moves into a different apartment across town to fit in London better. She experiences dreams about a singer who wants to become a star performer. The cinematic storytelling throughout the “dream sequences” are eloquently embellished with a more exciting than an actually was feel exactly like the trick our memories play on us. I felt like I was remembering the story Eloise was witnessing throughout. Eloise is cast ambiguously into a wonderful looking 60’s decade and seemingly attached to a young woman named Sandy. Sandy is a firecracker type who finds her way to the right guy who is getting venues in London booked. Sandy talks to him and they have a wonderful performance where Sandy demonstrates her skills in dance and later on singing.
When Eloise wakes up she is elated and happy drawing Sandy in her fashion design class. Cinematically Eloise is depicted in wide shots with lots of space between her and her former bullish roommates and the guy in her class crushing on her. At home she is depicted on her bed in a large room by herself. This approach emphasizes how wonderful Eloise felt seeing Sandy reach the precipice of her dreams and drew me into seeing if or when Eloise will get to continue Sandy’s story.
Eloise’s story is masterfully placed in a world that suspends the decade in which it’s happening. For the first 10 minutes of the film Eloise moves from her small town to the big city and the shots around her depict a life of quietude and Eloise’s interests were all about fashion and music vintage music which is depicted in the record player she took with her that fit so easily as a piece of luggage from the era of big bands and Hollywood glamour. I loved how the specific decade or year for Eloise’s time was suspended in time and dead giveaways of what decade it was were muted down to just the headphones she wore and a scene of two of her in a nightclub. Other than that the feel of the film feels like the dreary place outside of Hogwarts from harry potter while the real action was watching Sandy. This sentiment propelled the story forward with an intense power that rattled along throughout the entire film. When things turned dark for Eloise and the horror set in for Sandy Eloise kept dreaming about her and was forced in a beautifully uncomfortable way like Suspira the suffering of women in the 60’s is placed bluntly on screen and Eloise watches with the audience in horror. This film does a wonderful job of strapping you in for a fun and exciting ride but by the end you realize the straps were to keep you from looking away.
Narratively, I was enthralled with the twists this movie brought.
I was convinced as the film cements in its story, that Sandy may be Eloise’s long-lost mother and the old man stalking her was the man that betrayed Sandy. I suspected that the woman living with Eloise was someone important but the twist at the end that revealed she murdered all the men who tried to suit her. I was sold on the former assumption that the landlady was her mother or at least would reveal something about her mother!
In fact, Eloise’s mother was used to string along the audience through the different characters she met starting with Sandy I wondered if Sandy was her mother , then the old man who stalked her I wondered if he had secrets about her mother and finally the landlady, but really Eloise’s mother was a mcguffin meaning the use of her mother was used as a way to progress the story.
Overall I loved this film, from the first dive into yesteryear I was fully on-board and took the ride. If anything the only criticism I have for this flick was the pacing slowed just a tad in the library scene and Edgar Wright went a little heavy on the ghost/haunting scenes, that being said, as a haunted house, type of movie this film blows other films that have fully intended to be haunted house movies in recent memory, completely our of the water!
Deep Cinema | 10/10 | Excellent cinematic filmmaking mastery