REVIEW: Last Night in Soho, BFI London Film Festival

Edgar Wright’s new film is gripping, thrilling and will linger long in the mind after it’s over.

Stylish, bold and utterly unnerving, this latest film from director Edgar Wright is consistently intriguing to watch unfold – as the audience is taken on a dark journey that explores what happens when dreams and ambitions go unfulfilled.

Last Night in Soho follows the story of Eloise, a young and aspiring fashion designer who comes to London to study fashion at university. While the first section of the film indicates that this is a typical coming of age story – actually things begin to take a darker twist when she moves in with an elderly lady and soon begins to have fantasies that sweep her back to the 1960’s – an era that she particularly loves. As she begins to spend more time in the past, the audience is left wondering if Eloise really believes that she is Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) an aspiring singer or if something more sinister is afoot.

The cleverness of this film lies in the way it constantly blindsides the audience into believing that they are going on a particular journey only to sharply change direction when you least expect it – particularly as fantasy and reality begin to merge together in a horrific way. While it feels on the surface a celebration of the glamour of 1960’s Soho (which the audience as well as Eloise is taken in by), what is underneath is more dark and violent and is captivating to watch from start to finish.

Written by Krysty Wilson-Cairns and Edgar Wright, this perfectly paced film ramps up the tension and the visions that Eloise experiences beautifully, the story is never rushed – always keeping the audience in suspense as to what is coming next.

Visually, there is plenty to be admired – particularly the way in which Odile Dicks-Mireaux’s authentic costumes and the way in which the 1960’s sequences have been filmed to carefully highlight the change in atmosphere during the increasingly menacing apparitions that soon consume Eloise’s day-to-day life. The way in which ideas of fantasy and reality are merged is also cleverly captured. The use of music is also clever, not only Steven Price’s score that adds a lot of menace in the background in a subtle way but also the way in which classic 1960’s songs such as ‘Downtown’ add to the haunting and increasingly claustrophobic atmosphere.

Edgar Wright has put together a really strong cast for Last Night in Soho, all of whom put in compelling performances that keep the audience thoroughly invested from start to finish. In particular, Thomasin McKenzie as Eloise more than delivers the character’s vulnerability and increasing terror in an understated way that ensures the audience’s sympathy and desire to see her escape from the nightmare she is living. Elsewhere Anya Taylor-Joy, has a cool sophisticated style about her as Sandie, while Matt Smith’s performance as the charismatic Jack is equally impressive. Diana Rigg in her final role as the mysterious Miss Collins delivers many different layers to this character that is intriguing to watch.

Designed to shock and intriguing to watch, Last Night in Soho is certainly a film that stays in the mind long after it is over.

By Emma Clarendon

Last Night in Soho will be released in cinemas on the 29th October.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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