Last Night in Soho (Review)
Director Edgar Wright is a director who makes sure his audience has to keep up with his films. The pacing, editing and twists and turns of all his films, "Baby Driver", "Hot Fuzz" and "Shuan of the Dead", are what attracts his loyal fans. "Last Night in Soho" is no exception.
Mr. Wright starts off with a girl from the country, Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie), who moves to the big city, London, in pursuit of her dreams as a fashion designer. But Eloise isn't carrying only dreams, she has a power of clairvoyance which takes over her life when she moves into a flat in London. She "sees" the story of Alexandra (Anya Taylor-Joy) who has also arrived in the big city to pursue her dreams as a singer. The roads Eloise follows Alexandra are filled with empty promises and debts to men who might help her ascend the entertainment ladder. Those debts pile up and Alexandra sees her dreams slowly fade away. To retain a sliver of hope Alexandra ceases playing along with those supposed "sugar daddies" which ignites their rage and leads to a bloody ending.
Eloise has a front row seat watching Alexandra's life unfold before her. She's so close in fact that her life may be at stake depending on the turns of Alexandra's reality. Those visions of both the girl and men who invade Eloise's life have such an impact that Eloise takes it upon herself to solve the murder that may have happened in the flat she currently resides in. Her determination to right the wrongs of another era are so pure that she firmly holds the audience's sympathies as we travel with her through the dark alleys of 60's London.
Ms. McKenzie is so well cast that Mr. Wright doesn't have to add any needless scenes emphasizing her innocence. Her Eloise comes off as having no contact with adversity with the exception of having lost her mother. But through her powers she has kept her mother by her side, fending off the heavy burden of such a loss. The simplicity of her character raises the stakes of each encounter as we know Eloise is no match for those who dwell in the underbelly of swinging London.
She's a great contrast to Ms. Taylor-Joy's Alexandra. Alexandra comes to the big city determined to make it. Her experiences are just as scarce as Eloise's but her determination propels her forward by-passing any bit of caution that might have kept her from sinking further into despair. Ms. Taylor-Joy is wonderful. Her character's one-track mind keeps her predicament from fully presenting itself to Alexandra. It isn't until the character's frustration with her endless cycle allows her to open the curtain and realize her moves brought her life to a dead end. The next path Alexandra takes is so in tune with her character. Mr. Wright brings us so deep into these girls' predicament that the audience cannot see the real terror that resides on the surface of "Last Night in Soho" until its conclusion.
Mr. Wright, who wrote this picture with Krysty Wilson-Cairns ("1917"), adds a bit of 60's London nostalgia in the forms of Terence Stamp and Diana Rigg. Both titans of an earlier age still show they have a presence in front of the camera and Mr. Stamp can still make the ear drums tingle with his cockney accent. Ms. Rigg, in her last role before her death, still shows the range and is an instrumental part of the picture.
This story of two girls going off to the big city to pursue their dreams but come up against a man-made system that is doing all it can to keep them from those dreams is a classic Edgar Wright film. It starts off like a pot of cold water thrown on the stove and slowly begins to simmer. The heat rises and the water boils until it erupts, scorching its audience while searing itself in their minds for some time.