Last Night in Soho: Film Review

Universal

Edgar Wright brings us his first venture into the psychological horror genre with the much-delayed Last Night in Soho.

The film stars Thomasin McKenzie as Eloise, who has moved to London to study fashion design. Not liking her student accommodation, she finds a bedsit in Fitzrovia (not Soho!) and in her dreams she is transported to the ’60s, where she follows aspiring singer Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) as she meets manager/promoter Jack (Matt Smith) and they embark on a romance. At first, Eloise is enamoured with these dreams and starts dressing like Sandie, but it takes a sinister turn when she learns her idol’s life was far from perfect and the unsavoury characters in Soho’s seedy underbelly begin to haunt Eloise when she is awake.

I really liked the concept, the soundtrack (Downtown by Petula Clark will be stuck in your head as a result), the neon-lit atmosphere, the editing of the dream sequences, and the ’60s costume design, while I enjoyed seeing if I could recognise the different London locations and deciding if they were actually in Soho.

I liked where the story was going up until a point, and it particularly falls apart with the twist ending, which has proven rather divisive. Admittedly, I didn’t see it coming and it came as shock but it also felt very cheap and pulpy and so at odds with the smart and stylish story that had come before. It didn’t feel particularly well written either and came across as a bit rushed and sloppy. Outside of the ending, there is also a key scene that is utterly bewildering and doesn’t ring true. Something major happens between two characters one night and it’s brushed aside the next day and barely addressed again, which just would not happen! Maddening stuff.

The cast is a highlight, particularly McKenzie, who delivers the wide-eyed and horrified requirements as Eloise loses her grip on reality and is perceived to be losing her mind. Taylor-Joy isn’t in this as much as you might think but she is perfect for the part of Sandie thanks to her captivating movie star energy and Smith brings the smarmy charm as Jack. Audiences will likely warm most to John (Michael Ajao), Eloise’s love interest, but he’s very thinly written, like all of the students. There’s also Terence Stamp as a creepy, mysterious and slightly menacing pub customer, while Diana Rigg (in her last film role) is excellent as Eloise’s landlady.

Last Night in Soho begins so well and I was really into it so it’s a shame the ending was so disappointing. It just felt like Wright came up with this amazing concept but didn’t know how to conclude it properly.

In cinemas now

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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