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Home > Last Night in Soho (2021): A Review

Last Night in Soho (2021): A Review

Last Night in Soho

Swinging Sixties and Femme Fatales

Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho premiered this fall and told a dreamy and provocative story, using the aesthetics of the 1960s to propel the wistful emotions felt by main character Ellie. 

Ellie, a country girl who’s mother committed suicide when she was young moves to London in order to study fashion. 

Last Night in Soho starts off relatively mundane, we meet Ellie and learn her goals. Then we meet Jocasta, who like any good coming of age film roommate, differs from Ellie in most ways and establishes her first challenge. Ellie is meek and fantasizing about a career in fashion. Jocasta is confident, metropolitan, and living a career in fashion at high powered internships presumably procured by her well connected family. The modern college dormitory hall that provides the setting for the early parts of the film is underwhelming, and the characters at her school mostly tropes, to establish Ellie as our “not like other girls” protagonist.

However, the run of the mill start works out in the film’s favor by causing a juxtaposition that allows the later parts to shine even brighter.

Ellie lives in modern times, made apparent by the technology and her roommate’s reference to Kylie Jenner. After abandoning dorm life to rent a room from a local woman, she begins having incredibly vivid dreams that take her back to the 1960s to follow a woman named Sandie. 

Sandie, played by Anya Taylor-Joy dominates the screen as she struggles to find work on the fictional stage. Taylor-Joy, not far from her reign on Queen’s Gambit, embodies the troubled 60’s mod girl effortlessly. Sandie is glamorous and loved but her struggles feel so real, especially to Ellie who becomes entranced with her story. She even matches her appearance to Sandie and draws design inspiration from her. The writing at times feels lackluster and cheesy, often following formulaic guides for paranormal dream movies. 

The movie focuses on Ellie’s journey to avenge Sandy, haunted by visions of men who abused Sandy, she fuels her search for justice and forces herself to face the true horror’s of Sandie’s life.

Ellie’s world is awkward and to her, frustratingly boring. Sandie’s is bold and sexy, with beautiful sets and lighting that set the mood and pull you into the story. With very few people to lean on in the real world, she finds solace in the past.

Through the expert use of makeup and costume Ellie seems more and more deranged as the skeletons in Sandie’s closet start to reveal themselves. She loses herself in the name of finding Sandie and the push-pull between two wildly different women is enthralling to watch. Something about Sandie’s acceptance of her fate coupled with her romantic and lustful energy towards success makes Ellie’s needs more compelling. Personally, after the early nod to Ellie’s mother’s suicide, I thought Sandie would be more connected to that considering the paranormal genre but wasn’t pleasantly proven wrong. 

Last Night in Soho

While the film does struggle over some bumps in the writing that could have been more carefully crafted for such a thrilling story, that allows for cinematic language to speak volumes.

Stunning technical production takes the cake in this film. Lighting provides emotion where the dialogue and acting fall short, Matt Smith’s Jack was hard to take seriously as a dangerous pimp but the director framed him in dark and menacing ways, cementing him as a powerful villain. 

The music switches from true to the story 60’s swing and party music, and simpler ambient tracks in Ellie’s waking life. Taylor-Joy again stuns us with singing skills I didn’t know she had. Her two cover’s performed in the film provide insight to her character and help us empathize with Ellie’s. When we are as infatuated with Sandie as Ellie is, her motives become all the more clear. 

Two smaller areas the film could have improved were costume design and the constant use of mirrors in moment’s crucial to the story. I think considering Ellie’s career and the already unrealistic, otherworldly setting, the outfits could have been campier. I would have loved to see more sparkle and brighter colors, especially on Sandie! For such a dazzling woman, we only see her in a few simple dresses. 

As for the mirrors, they can be an engrossing way of revealing details on screen, but this movie almost uses them as a crutch. The two worlds were already split by dreaming, the mirrors could have been scaled back. 

The film screeches to a twist ending, again using light to convey intense emotions, this time bringing in new colors to symbolize the truths that unravel. 

The two women are wonderfully mismatched and their dynamic is truly what sells the story. Watching them develop alongside and era’s apart is almost as mesmerizing as Ellie thought Sandie.

Last Night in Soho

Last Night in Soho (2021) Official Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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