Last Night In Soho is a colorful, groovy, manic episode that wears its influences all over its fancy pink sleeves.
When a precocious old soul goes to London to study fashion, she is haunted by the life story of an aspiring singer in the 1960s. The first thing that stood out to me in this film was how colorful it was. Vibrant 1960’s reds, golds, and pastels are bathed in the glow of red and blue neon. The first act plays like a sweeping homage to the decade. Seeing London beautifully recreated for that period was amazing and we are shown these great visuals through the eyes of Ellie, played by Thomasin Mckenzie. She starts out very subdued and soft-spoken but later crescendos into full blown mania. I enjoyed how tied we were to Ellies point of view, and really empathized with the character.
Edgar Wright’s obsessive precision is on full display here. There are dazzling set pieces, gorgeous transitions, and an amazing soundtrack. Mirrors are a big part of the film, both practically and thematically. He achieves multiple shots involving reflections that will absolutely blow your mind. The mirrors also highlight the theme of reflection and toxic nostalgia. It is a common impulse to glorify the past, or a specific time period, without recognizing the tragic or horrifying inequities that were present just beneath the surface. As the mirrors break and contort, so too does our rose-colored illusion of decades gone by. As with any Edgar Wright film, the music is inextricably woven into the DNA. There is such a satisfaction that comes from hearing inspired song choices almost seem like they were written and scored to these images. The music feels as important, if not more, than the frames that accompany them, and that’s one thing that makes Wrights films so special.
This is absolutely an homage film to psychological horror and giallo. I saw big influences from Suspiria, Carrie, Mulholland Drive, and Rosemary’s Baby to name a few. The issue for me is that some of the negative aspects of those films were present here as well. The ancillary characters here felt woefully underwritten with inexplicable motivations and no agency. There is a possibility this was done intentionally to mirror the equally underwritten female characters in films of that time period, but nevertheless it kept taking me out of the film. The ending, while tense and visually stunning, makes some odd choices that I feel subvert the films perspective up to that point.
I had a great time with this one! It was beautiful visually, has a perfect soundtrack, and is very well-paced. It also has an amazing final performance from the great Diana Rigg. Last Night In Soho is a manic delight that can sometimes feel confined by its classic influences, but nevertheless is well worth the ride.