Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho is a psychologically transcendent nightmare.
A young aspiring fashion designer named Eloise, played by Thomasin McKenzie, leaves her rural England life behind to attend the emotionally demanding College of Fashion in London by day while visiting the harrowing side of 1960s Soho by night.
I wasn’t expecting it to so thoroughly capture what it’s often like to go away to college/university but it really touches on all of the aspects of leaving behind everything you know for a life in an intimidating new place during such a life changing time.
It can produce an overwhelming mix of nerves, loneliness and longing for your old life but with touches of amazement and optimism for the new opportunities around you and what is ahead of you.
Many young adults seek emotional escapes from the hardships that come with university life. Some lock into their studies, some surround themselves with social environments and some may find more personal immersions of interest. In Eloise’s case, music and fashion of the 1960s is her life, a structure that helps also her deal with the early loss of her mother to mental illness, something she also has to now deal with, so her disheartening introduction of university life leads her to mysteriously visit 1960s Soho every night, tethered to an aspiring singer named Sandie, played by Anya Taylor-Joy.
What begins as wistful voyeurism of a time that had a special place in Eloise’s heart quickly unravels and the darker side of 1960s Soho shows its ugly head, bleeding not only into reality but into this young woman’s already troubled soul. From the moment this nostalgic facade, the film ultimately spirals in a direction I wasn’t quite expecting and its gripping entertainment until the closing moments.
Last Night in Soho is packed with acting talent. Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, Terence Stamp and Michael Ajao round out the main players. Everyone is great but all eyes are on the mentioned actors.
I continue to admire Thomasin McKenzie and the calming poise she always brings to each of her roles and the way she is able to embody a young woman coming completely undone in Last Night in Soho results in probably her best performance to date. The same can be said of Anya Taylor-Joy….the way she is also pushed to a dark and unhinged place.
In hindsight, it really makes me miss my own college days, where I experienced similar aspects of this time of my life, you know, just minus all of the tormenting-tormented souls and a scorned singer turned serial killer.
In some aspects, Edgar Wright steps outside of his signature stylistic filmmaking…a barrage of edits, flashy performances and killer humor for a slightly different approach….returning with some excellent production design, catchy and fitting music, building up raw emotion, tension and causing it to thrillingly spiral out of cinematic control, all within a recreation of the wistful worlds of Soho London past and present.
I thoroughly enjoyed Last Night in Soho. I would have loved to catch it in theaters during October. It may or may not end up in the top 10 of my best of 2021 list but it will certainly land on it somewhere.