After “Scott Pilgrim vs. the Rest of the World”, the Cornetto trilogy and the beat-driven action spectacle “Baby Driver”, director Edgar Wright has particularly distinguished himself with light-hearted fare. For LAST NIGHT IN SOHO He is now venturing into pure horror film territory for the first time – but in this case it means something completely different than what the sometimes somewhat lurid trailer suggests…
OT: Last Night in Soho (UK 2021)
Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) is an ambitious fashion design student who moves to London to study. The reserved young woman visibly feels uncomfortable here because, in contrast to her, her fellow students are much more self-confident and primarily stand out through envy and resentment. Only a charming classmate (Michael Ajao) – an exception in the course that is predominantly attended by women – also seems to be interested in Eloise’s shy personality and begins to befriend her. But as nice as this new acquaintance may be for Eloise, she keeps a secret to herself: night after night she dreams of the swinging sixties and follows hopeful young singer Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), who is in London, at every turn nightlife in the 1960s and hoped for a career as a musician. At first the signs are good. The patronizing Jack (Matt Smith) opens up the world of nightclubs and bars to her. But his intentions are not good and soon Sandy is drawn into a whirlpool of terrible events – and Eloise with her.
Director and author Edgar Wright cites the main sources of inspiration for his neo-noir horror trip “Last Night in Soho”. (“Baby Driver”) the genre classics “When the Gondolas Wear Mourning” and Roman Polanski’s “Disgust”. Both films are characterized not only by their focus on a female main character (and we all know in terms of film history: this was certainly not a given in the 1960s and 1970s), but also by a feeling of shock, horror and anxiety , the not can be attributed to classic horror motifs, but rather to a diffuse scattering of reality-distorting details that gradually poison the atmosphere. Wright takes a similar approach for “Last Night in Soho” and, in terms of staging, is also reminiscent of the female empowerment all-rounder “Promising Young Woman,” which also started this year; one of the best films of 2021. And Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel” does this Emancipatory trio finally complete. By the way, you shouldn’t know much more about Wright’s #MeToo contribution so that the punches in the stomach can have their full force. The filmmaker also asked for this at the Venice Film Festival, where “Last Night in Soho” celebrated its acclaimed world premiere.
The aspiring fashion designer Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) travels to London to study.
“Last Night in Soho” contains by far the most shocking film scene of the year. And this has nothing to do with blood, demons or any strongly placed jump scare, but rather reveals a completely different form of horror when he suddenly demystifies the supposedly dazzling 1960s, in which elegantly dressed showgirls charmed their audiences with their ballads. Nostalgics are definitely out of place in a performance of “The Last Night in Soho”. Wright can keep his audience wrapped around his finger for as long as he wants with an obvious “Just remember how great it all was back then!” attitude. Here it’s not just the emotionally emaciated faces of the humiliated dancers dressed like clockwork dolls and barely clothed, as well as the accompanying lustful faces of the disgusting men who watch this spectacle as a matter of course that hit you with full force. Above all, it is the subsequent look behind the scenes of the renowned Café de Paris, which exposes the true background of this entertainment machine. And this haunts you until long after the film, because they simply make you aware of the female oppression of women in show business no is a contemporary phenomenon, but has existed for many decades.
“Nostalgics are definitely out of place in a performance of ‘The Last Night in Soho’. Wright can keep his audience wrapped around his finger for as long as he likes with an obvious “Just remember how great it all was back then!” attitude.”
In contrast, the scenes in the here and now contain moments that every woman has probably experienced before. Symptomatic is a moment in which Eloise, played by “Jojo Rabbit” star Thomasin McKenzie, is harassed in a taxi by a man who describes himself as a “stalker,” who then doesn’t let her get out of the car immediately. But dubious encounters in clubs also characterize her nightlife (which she only experiences reluctantly anyway), which is why it is not at all surprising that the introverted student prefers to dream of being at the side of the self-confident Sandie. At her side, not only is everything somehow better and more fascinating at first, because men were still in the 1960s “real gentlemen” (as a reminder: Edgar Wright soon enough exposes this impression as a transfiguration). The character of Sandie, introduced as highly elegantly dressed and quick-witted, also forms the perfect contrast to Eloise, who can also live out her own, hidden daredevil side through Sandy’s eyes.
Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) finds a supposed patron in the bar owner Jack (Matt Smith)…
Thomasin McKenzie said for her with Anya Taylor-Joy (“Split”) Shared lead role even took part in “Top Gun: Maverick”. We can only congratulate her and her colleague on this decision. And if things go well in the coming Oscar season, “Last Night in Soho” could bring the two of them their first nominations. While it is once again thanks to Edgar Wright’s excellent sense of audiovisuality and editing that the symbiosis of the two ladies is equally recognizable over the course of the film and yet allows them the greatest possible individual development (a dance scene at the beginning of the film should be highlighted at this point). , which surprisingly not Taylor-Joy and McKenzie are the real stars of the film, not only thanks to excellent editing, but also through meticulous dance and camera choreography in which the two actresses constantly alternate. Her passionate performances, which are increasingly similar to each other and yet remain completely independent, reach to the core and bring her audience closer to female exploitation and, above all, the fight against it in an empathetic way. Even if one of them has long since come to terms with their fate.
“If things go smoothly in the upcoming Oscar season, ‘Last Night in Soho’ could give the two leading actresses their first nominations.”
Unlike Ridley Scott’s similarly thematic “The Last Duel” (which ironically also premiered in Venice), “Last Night in Soho” is not just about illustrating injustice. And in contrast to “Promising Young Woman,” Wright isn’t just interested in rebelling against it. Instead, his aim is to show the consequences of structured sexism; for women, but also for society itself. This sometimes becomes a little redundant in the last third. Namely, whenever the somewhat clumsy motif of the illustration (“the ghosts of the past” are to be understood literally here) runs dead. But it doesn’t miss its impact, just like the controversial ending, which, unlike “The Last Duel”, foregoes any political correctness – and is therefore much closer to “Promising Young Woman”. It’s probably best to watch these two films back to back…
Conclusion: The exuberantly staged horror-thriller-drama hybrid “Last Night in Soho” is not only Edgar Wright’s best film to date, but also the most biting commentary in the current wave of female empowerment films. And that in a year in which “Promising Young Woman” was released…
“Last Night in Soho” can be seen in USA cinemas from November 11, 2021.