'Last Night In Soho' Review
Surely we don't have to talk about last night's events, right? That is just never a good idea, you know. Well, maybe this time we'll make an exception and talk about Last Night In Soho, director-writer Edgar Wright's venture into the psychological thriller and horror realm, in collaboration with co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Who's out there in Soho, you ask? That is Eloise/''Ellie'' (played by Thomasin McKenzie) who moves to London from countryside to attend university for fashion design, only to not really get along with some of her classmates. Ellie ends up moving from university housing to a flat owned by Ms. Collins (Diana Rigg) and taking a job at nearby pub to pay for it. Whilst living there, she begins to have dreams where she's in the neighbourhood in the 1960s, following a woman called Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) who faces some disturbing situations. Those dreams become increasingly more impactful for Ellie, as she also sets out to find out what exactly happened to Sandie and who she was.
After a somewhat shaky start with ghost sightings and whatnot, ''Soho'' settles into a quite compelling mix of character-driven thrillers and Wright's flashy directorial tendencies. Style is certainly something that the film isn't missing whether that's editor Paul Machliss' smooth transitions using DOP Chung-hoon Chung's symmetrical compositions, or costumes designed by Odile Dicks-Mireaux which is utilising both high fashion and DIY. Perhaps most impressive part are the set designs, however, handled by decorator Judy Farr as they build Ellie's world to be more basic and colder, while Sandie's is more polished and glowing. It'd be difficult to not recommend Soho because technically it is exciting and everything you would want from a fashion-centric, super-stylised thriller.
It mostly comes to the writing and how Wright gets that across from act to act where the curtain drops down to reveal that it's mostly smoke, old jukebox songs and mirrors here. After the first act, Wright starts to introduce horror elements and by the final showdown, they really sweep the floor clean from any excitement visually or in terms of character depth with Ellie. This all is then combined with the story constantly clashing with bigger issues presented, often even in the very next scene. There are moments that are using mental illness, sexual harassment, sex trafficking and bullying just to set up a plot twist, a bloodbath or an excuse to point out something really vague about the society. While Wright loses the grip on intentionality when throwing yelling, scary things towards you, he also loses the performances of McKenzie, Rigg and Michael Ajao (John, Ellie's love interest) as they're screaming at the walls or just screaming Ellie's name around the city like with John.
Smileys: Set decoration
Frowneys: Atmosphere, story
A genuine miracle how the writers got away with not having to credit the 'Eloise' song in the film as the adapted source material.