This weekend features only one film in our eerie October Countdown, the dark and beguiling 2021 trip that is Last Night in Soho.
A quiet young artist, haunted by the death of her mother, heads to fashion school and finds herself time-traveling to her favorite era, the 1960s. Don’t think the Beatles and hippie hangouts; think Petula Clark, Carnaby Street and, of course, Soho, at its most stylish and sordid.
And don’t expect a fun nostalgic trip– because the past can be dark and oppressive, and young Eloise is about to encounter missing persons, manipulation, misogyny, mirrors, and murder.
Cast & Crew
Directed by Edgar Wright
Written by Edgar Wright and Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Thomasin McKenzie as Eloise
Anya Taylor-Joy as Sandie
Matt Smith as Jack
Michael Ajao as John
Synnøve Karlsen as Jocasta
Diana Rigg as Ms. Collins
Rita Tushingham as Grandma Peggy
Aimee Cassettari as Eloise’s Mother
Terence Stamp as Mysterious Silver-Haired Man
Jessie Mei Li as Lara
Kassius Nelson as Cami
Beth Singh as Cilla Black
Paul Brightwell as Cubby
Rebecca Harrod as Ashley
Alan Mahon as Toucan Bartender
Pauline McLynn as Carol
Michael Jibson as Male Detective
Lisa McGrillis as Female Detective
Elizabeth Berrington as Ms. Tobin
Colin Mace as Offensive Taxi Driver
Will Rogers as Café de Paris Bartender
Terence Frisch as Rialto Club Owner
Margaret Nolan as Sage Barmaid
Celeste Dring as Shop Assistant
Jeanie Wishes as Marionetta
Andrew Bicknell as Mr. Pointer
Quiet Eloise, haunted by the death of her mother, goes to fashion school, meets foul roommates, and finds herself time-traveling at night to her favorite era, the 1960s, seeing the nightlife through the eyes of the mysterious singer, Sandie. As she uncovers the past’s seamy, seedy side, she becomes convinced that a killer from 1960s Soho still lives, so many decades later.
The opening act will grip most viewers, with its disturbed protagonist and interconnected mysteries. Last Night in Soho then opens the past in spectacular fashion, and its dark lysergic energy does much to distract from some plot problems, and keep viewers following through its maze of a storyline.
The plot grows increasingly chaotic in its final act, with uncertain wanderings and numerous thriller and horror tropes.
And speaking of tropes, Last Night overuses that one where a person awaking from a nightmare needs must bolt upright into a sitting position.
Originality: 3/6 Wright mirrors a number of other directors.
Effects: 6/6 The film’s a trip, enhanced by contemporary visuals effects.
Acting: 6/6 Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy are both excellent. The supporting cast are solid actors, and they need to be. Most of the supporting characters have been sketched in outlines and penciled in with tropes. Synnøve Karlsen’s Jocasta, for example, has no personality beyond being a brazen, hyperbolic bully. A post-Doc Matt Smith elevates another character who is basically a one-dimensional villain.
Production: 6/6 Strong production values take us from rural England to present-day London, from unsavory dorms and demimondes to a literal dream of Soho in the 60s. If the depiction isn’t quite as original as what we see in Absolute Beginners, this film at least didn’t sink a studio.
Story: 4/6 The beginning is solid; the plot grows increasingly convoluted in the second half, with too little payoff for its twisted meanderings. I’ve seen it twice and I’m still not certain that the final act actually makes sense. The conclusion also suspends logical consequences for a couple of characters, who should be under extended care for physical and psychological damage– not to mention suspicion by the police.
Emotional Response: 4/6
Overall: 4/6 The film features the final performance of a swinging sixties star, Diana Rigg as Eloise’s enigmatic landlady.
In Total, Last Night in Soho receives 33/42
October Countdown 2023:
Oct. 1: Tales of Halloween (2015)
Weekend of Oct. 7/8: Tomb of Ligeia (1964)
Weekend of Oct. 21/22: Last Night in Soho (2021)
Weekend of Oct. 28/29: Anime Explorations: Vampire Hunter D (1985)
October 31: Renfield (2023)
Haunted House (2023)