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BFF21 Review : Last Night in Soho – A Wonderful Time!

Does Last Night in Soho deliver quality on par with the high expectations of Wright’s other work?

Universal Pictures

Who is the coolest and most stylish of all directors working today? That question is quite subjective…but Edgar Wright must be in the running! Wright has made a career of making fast-paced and sharply edited flicks that balance homages to classic genres while also existing as classics themselves. All three flavors of his Cornetto Trilogy are triumphs and Baby Driver took cinema by storm when it was released a few years ago. But Wright is taking audiences in a different direction with his latest, Last Night in Soho. This is a mix of period piece (focusing on the sharp and stylish 1960’s in London) with “time travel” while hitting on plenty of hallmarks of Giallo horror from Italy.

But first and foremost, does Last Night in Soho deliver quality on par with the high expectations of Wright’s other work? This one is certainly at the bottom of the barrel of Wright’s films. Where almost all of his films are perfectly brisk with incredible editing but this one seems to drag just a tad at times. The introduction of the film is also a bit rocky. Sure, the film delivers plenty of Wright’s sharp and funny dialogue, but the film is late to finding its footing until it delivers the first hump into the past. Ellie, our protagonist, is off to fashion school in London (which is really her first time on her own). She meets some unsavory classmates in her school, so she ventures out onto her own (getting an apartment from an elder landlady). The first act is not the only place where there are some issues as the third act is quite messy. Plenty of twists are delivered but little air is given to ponder them or process them in a necessary manner.

But what about the meaning beneath the surface in Last Night in Soho? Wright is generally great with his ideas and themes as he can layer them in well. There are a pair of important themes in this film, and I am not sure that they are handled well. Ellie’s mother is no longer with us (and unfortunately at her own hands) and her specter lurks in Ellie’s view. Does Ellie also deal with mental health issues? Are these visions/time traveling for real? The film never really confronts these ideas in a meaningful way and decides to use Ellie’s mental health as a cheap red herring. Then there are some important ideas around the #MeToo movement. As the twists fly in the third act of this film, there are some important revelations about sexual abuse and controlling relationships. These ideas are processed in the film in a shallow and sloppy way…which doesn’t bode well for the efforts of the film.

But those are enough negatives to discuss, right? This might be quite the flawed film but Wright packs plenty of promise and skill into this one film. From the jump, the music choices are incredible. They fit the film so well and help elevate every scene that they are entrusted with. I could easily listen to this soundtrack repeatedly. The visuals are sharp as well with striking colors, bold camera works, and great energy. The colors pop at every moment as Ellie hops through time into the life of Sandie. There are plenty of strong visuals including a bold yet frightening occurrence in a bed…with a knife. The performances are also quite strong with Thomasin MacKenzie providing a truly effective turn as Ellie who must balance romantic feelings, shock for her fellow workers, or assignments given in class. For those paying attention, Last Night in Soho is packed with all of Wright’s details and subtle nods. Anya Taylor-Joy delivers a magnetic performance including a fantastic cover of “Downtown” and a vulnerable energy that executes confidence while showing Sandie (her character’s) tough past. Even with some sloppy storytelling, MacKenzie is about to make her character full of layers and still likeable. Despite some sloppy storytelling in the third act, there are some genuine surprises, striking visuals, and plenty of frights along the way. Wright still proves he is a talent whose films are an event.

Despite its lower quality, is Last Night in Soho a must see for the season? Wright packs plenty of skills and love into this film and it is hard to not see that. The music, visuals, and performers are all on the next level with this film. If only the specific narrative elements worked better to make this a true masterpiece of horror filmmaking. But in the end, Wright will take you on a crazy and engrossing journey filled with some tropes and cliches but plenty of sharp and great dialogue. Wrights’ latest might not live up to our ridiculous hype but it is certainly a wonderful time.

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