Image by Parisa Taghizadeh; Courtesy of Focus Features

Film Review: Last Night in Soho

12:00 November 02, 2021
By: Fritz Esker

Edgar Wright's new film Last Night in Soho is hard to categorize. It's kind of a thriller with horror elements and time travel. Wright's also asked people to avoid spoiling too much about the film after seeing it. So, it's a difficult film to discuss, but it's one worth seeing.

Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) leaves small town England to pursue a degree at a London fashion college. She fantasizes about living in 60s swinging London. After she rents a room at the house of an old spinster (the late, great Diana Rigg), she's transported back to 60s London every time she goes to sleep. She follows Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), a young woman looking to be a singer. Sandie falls under the sway of the charming-but-sketchy Jack (Matt Smith). A mysterious elderly stranger (Terence Stamp) keeps crossing paths with Eloise in the present day.

The trips in time gradually become more sinister and the visions start to intrude on Eloise's waking life. Her mother suffered from mental illness and committed suicide, so viewers are unsure whether to take Eloise's visions at face value.

Last Night in Soho does many things right. It vividly evokes a time and place as well as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood did. The pace zips along, and, yes, it's fair to say there are some surprises along the way (which I won't reveal). Acting legends Rigg and Stamp, both in their 80s when Soho filmed in 2019, are great in their roles (even if Rigg's performance ends up being bittersweet as she died in the summer of 2020).

The film, co-written by Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917), does have its flaws. There is a subplot thread that isn't satisfactorily resolved. Eloise's love interest, a fellow fashion student named John (Michael Ajao), is unconvincing. Even taking into account the fact that movie love interests (male and female) often serve as wish fulfillment, John is kind, patient, and understanding in a way that no human being on Earth would be in the face of the story's increasingly crazy circumstances and Eloise's increasingly erratic behavior.

But overall, Last Night in Soho is a fun night at the movies. If you want to encourage Hollywood to make original, non-sequel, non-franchise, non-reboot films, check it out on the big screen.

*** stars (out of four)

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