LAST NIGHT IN SOHO Review – A Take From Two Sides

It’s incredibly rare to get TWO Edgar Wright movies in a year. I raved earlier this year about his wonderful documentary THE SPARKS BROTHERS, which was a complete summary of many decades. Wright is a stickler for detail and using imagery and particular music beats to. I saw LAST NIGHT IN SOHO at the recent Toronto International Film Festival and while it didn’t make my Top 10 list for many reasons, I still want audiences to check out this highly visual throwback to London in the 60s.

The movie really belongs to young Thomasin McKenzie (you may remember her from solid performances in JOJO RABBIT or LEAVE NO TRACE) who has one of the more unique voices I have heard in a young performer in quite some time. Her quiet, wispy voice, presentational poise and huge, expressive eyes is perfect for the fish-out-of-water, acting-is-reacting Eloise, who arrives in London wishing to be a fashion designer. Through some magic that we will learn about later, she falls asleep and is transported to the 60’s version of her surroundings, and discovers that she’s actually a young singer named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy, yet another visually expressive performer that is a perfect counterpart to McKenzie). But there’s a sinister side to all of this and a mystery that I dare not reveal.

It comes as a bit of a surprise to see LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, while solid overall, doesn’t exactly match his earlier work and feels a bit more flat throughout, especially when the mystery unravels in the final act. Even Wright’s shot composition and editing feels a bit more mainstream here even in comparison to his SPARKS BROTHERS which was like a master-class in doc editing. That said, SOHO is a very theatrical and memorable experience anchored by two great leads and a supporting cast of many.

My Austin-based writer Antonio Quintero caught a screening of SOHO at Fantastic Fest recently and here’s his take:

Edgar Wright goes retro in his latest feature LAST NIGHT IN SOHO. It was the first secret screening at this year’s Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas. I should mention that when Tim League, founder of the famous Alamo Drafthouse cinema chain, made a promise at the beginning of the intro to the film. He said it was going to be a restoration of a 1965 black and white British film WEST END GIRL. Instead of showing that film that doesn’t exist, he showed SOHO with Edgar Wright in attendance. Wright has been at FANTASTIC FEST before; but this was his first time showing one of his films at the festival. 

SOHO is about Eloise who is an aspiring fashion designer traveling to London to attend a fashion design school. She is obsessed with the 60s, the fashion, the music and the style of the time. One night while in her new flat in Soho, London she discovers that whenever she falls asleep, she is transported to 1965 SOHO London in the body of an aspiring singer named Sandie. At the beginning she is in love with the Swinging 60s; but then things take a turn to the dark side and her dreams turn into a nightmare.

Wright has made an amazing ghost story here. This is like a mix of YOUR NAME and THE SHINING, where it mixes time travel with a ghost story. The set decorations and costumes are amazing and you feel the 60s in the air when we were transported to this era. It’s amazing when you know they shot the film in Soho, which is a heavy tourist area. This is Wright moving into another filmmaking plateau as a journey of lost dreams and exploring one’s identity.  Thomasin McKenzie is amazing as the innocent Eloise as she must come with the dark side of her idyllic 60s. Anya Taylor-Joy just radiates a 60s starlet that slowly becomes corrupted by the seedy side of London. Diana Ring in her final performance is titan and she commands the screen every time she appears.

Wright as always is a master of using music in his movies. He gives us a ’60s soundtrack that features Enya, The Who, the Rolling Stones and many others. I will never listen to DOWNTOWN by Petula Clark in the same way again. This film was an amazing journey & I highly recommend it if you enjoy watching ghost movies and nostalgia.

Jason Whyte | Get Reel Movies

LAST NIGHT IN SOHO is now playing in theatres from Focus Features & Universal.

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