FILM REVIEW | Last Night in Soho

While Edgar Wright might not have the name recognition of juggernaut directors like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese or even the Coen Brothers, any new Wright release is met with the same excitement by his faithful fans.

The Brit has previously brought us the hilarious and brilliant Cornetto trilogy - Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End - along with the star-studded and meticulously designed graphic novel adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs The World and the more recent music-based crime caper Baby Driver.

Wright is a director and writer in complete control of his craft and that is evident in his brilliant new release, Last Night in Soho.

His latest film is an intoxicating trip back to 1960s London, where paranoia, excess and exploitation run high.

Last Night in Soho follows aspiring young fashion designer Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie, Jojo Rabbit), headed to London for the first time after growing up in a small Cornwall town.

Clever thriller: New Zealand actress Thomasin McKenzie stars as Eloise in Edgar Wright's psychedelic trip of a thriller, Last Night in Soho, in cinemas now, rated MA15+. Picture: Universal

Clever thriller: New Zealand actress Thomasin McKenzie stars as Eloise in Edgar Wright's psychedelic trip of a thriller, Last Night in Soho, in cinemas now, rated MA15+. Picture: Universal

She's excited for her stay in the city, where she'll be attending a prestigious fashion school, but is in no way prepared for the lifestyle that awaits her.

After finding her living quarters with the other students to be too raucous for her style, Eloise moves into 'bedsit' accommodation nearby, with only an older landlady, Ms Collins (the exceptional Dame Diana Rigg, in her final role) for company.

But as soon as she stays at the new space, Eloise - who has always been sensitive to 'spirits' or people on the other side - starts experiencing London in the 1960s through the perspective of a mysterious, glamorous young woman named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen's Gambit).

What starts off as the time-travelling trip she'd always longed for soon turns into something much more sinister and Eloise learns the extent to which women were exploited.

The music in Last Night in Soho is wonderfully tailored, and Taylor-Joy's haunting new rendition of Petula Clark's Downtown is a standout.

Matt Smith, Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy in Last Night in Soho. Picture: Universal

Matt Smith, Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy in Last Night in Soho. Picture: Universal

Both leading ladies deliver engaging, compelling performances.

Their characters start the film with big dreams and confidence in their abilities, but, for different reasons, find themselves more and more disillusioned with London and its people, to different ends.

Supporting them are Matt Smith (The Crown) as the charming yet undeniably shady Jack, Michael Ajao (Attack the Block) as John, Eloise's one friend and confidant in London, Synnove Karlsen (Medici) as the hateful queen bee design student Jocasta, Terrence Stamp (Superman) as one of the locals at Eloise's pub job and even a cameo appearance from the always brilliant and sometimes menacing Sam Claflin (Love, Rosie).

The costuming is, as one would expect of a film with a designer as its lead character, exquisite, from the sumptuous, nostalgic stylings of the swinging 60s to the Halloween party with Eloise's class.

Last Night in Soho is a ride that doesn't let up. It's everything you didn't know you wanted from an Edgar Wright film.

This is a film quite unlike any of Wright's other offerings, with significantly fewer laughs (there's almost no moments of levity outside the opening 15 to 20 minutes) and much heavier content.

The visuals are spectacular and the story is killer (literally) - Wright fans can't afford to miss this one. It's also a beautiful way to send out Rigg, who passed away last year aged 82 after a battle with lung cancer. Last Night in Soho is dedicated in her honour.

Stick around during the credits for eerie shots of a desolate Soho district filmed during pandemic-induced lockdown last year.

Rating: 8/10

This story Last Night in Soho film review: Dark, intoxicating thrill ride first appeared on Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser.