Last Night in Soho (2021)
Last Night In Soho was the last film I saw. I'll keep this SPOILER FREE. I'm not going to divulge any plot details because the previews are extremely vague. That sense of discovery as the mystery unfolds is one of the most satisfactory feelings. I had been eagerly awaiting this for over a year, being a huge fan of Edgar Wright. How does this film compare to the rest of his work?
Over the years Edgar Wright has slowly become one of my favourite directors. I find him hugely inspiring with the way his ambitious visions are brought to life. His versatility is uniquely unlike many modern filmmakers. He can direct any genre and produce a great film. Most directors stick to the genre they're good at like Mike Flanagan, respectively. Not just that but the way he approaches filming and editing is the most unique thing about his movies. For example, he utilizes the soundtrack to full effect in every movie. The way he frames his shots has so much thought out into it, it's pure eye candy.
The new film is no exception. The attention to detail for everything about the costume designs, set pieces, lighting, and the use of colours had me spellbound. Once sucked into his world of the 60s, I was enveloped with a sense of giddy glee few new movies fill me with anymore. Things aren't all rainbows and sunshine however when things get dark the transition is fluidly seamless. It's surprising things change so quickly but it's not jarring it's satisfying. I love his inclusion of little motifs too like the use of mirrors and the symbolism behind them. Filmed on location in Soho, London he utilizes famous locations like Covent Garden and Piccadilly Circus. His picturesque homeland never looked so good on screen especially at night in the 60s scenes. There is so much involved it needs repeat viewings to absorb everything.
Written by Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, the genre-bending story isn't perfect yet the plot holes didn't ruin the experience. The multiple storylines tangle together in a way that makes sense to me but relies heavily on my suspension of disbelief. It's funny but not a comedy. It's scary but not a straight-up horror flick. It's a mystery but not in the conventional sense. It's a dramatic romanticization of London's flashy 60s nightclub life with supernatural elements. It's so hard to describe. I can't talk about much more than that so let's move on.
The phenomenal cast had their work cut out for them. The story goes they had to stop shooting mid-production because of the pandemonium of current events. Take time to process that. Your acting in a role. Forced to stop. And suddenly your back yet seemingly needs to pick up where you left off. That must have taken an awful toll on them having to relearn lines and marks and comedic timing. Thomasin McKenzie is Ellie. She's got accepted to a fashion school in the big city. She steals the show with what she brings to the table. Make no mistake, this is her movie. Anya Taylor-Joy plays Sandy in the ads and the mystery revolves around her but it's all about Ellie's attempt to solve it. Taylor-Joy is fun in a completely different role for her. Instead of the sad damsel in distress, she's a charming aspiring songstress with a tragic backstory. I felt for her. Matt Smith of Dr. Who fame plays Jack, her manager. He's delightful as her golden ticket to stardom. Once things take a turn for the worst, his dark side comes out reminding her dreams do come true at a cost. He's so sinister and manipulative in a staggeringly captivating performance that's one of his best in his career so far. Michael Ajao is John, Ellie's friend and classmate. He's charismatic as the comic relief sidekick happily assisting while wishing they can be more than friends. He's sympathetic and relatable because who hasn't been in that position? Terence Stamp is Lindsay. He chews the scenery as a mysterious figure who is a suspect in the investigation. He's great as always being the dubious one lurking in the shadows. Last, but not least, is Diana Rigg of Game of Thrones fame, as Miss Collins. She's the owner of the house Ellie rents a room in so she's her landlord. Her kindly, comforting presence gives Ellie a sense of security in the big city. Rigg is extraordinary acting as a second grandmother to her little lonely tenant. It's hard to imagine anyone else playing the role like her.
Overall, it's so nice to see a truly original story stick the landing. It's got an awesome soundtrack to accompany this lavishly directed murder mystery. I couldn't guess who did it. I do consider his other films like Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead to be perfect, this isn't. The writing has plot holes requiring a big suspension of disbelief but everything else is so astounding I was simply enamoured by it. Edgar Wright has done it again with this joyful horror extravaganza. I highly recommend seeing this in theatres on the biggest screen available to soak up all the elegantly gorgeous esthetic of the 60s. It's Edgar Wright's most seductive, immersive, stylish film he's directed so far. It's movie magic at its best. I do believe it's the best new film to be released this year. And remember, murders in the past may lead to mysteries in the future but there's no time like the present because you never know when it'll be your last night in Soho.
Grade: Extra Extra Extra Large Popcorn