Film review: ‘Last Night in Soho’ revises swinging ’60s London with added gore for full fantastical measure

Edgar Wright’s transformative and surprisingly macabre film, Last Night in Soho, takes you on a sumptuous journey, equal in doses of fantasy and horror. Aided by master cinematographer Chung- Hoon Chung, Wright presents a visceral experience where dazzling 1960s London becomes a dark and violent setting, shrouded in secrets that connect the past to the present.

Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie) is a wide-eyed fashion student dreaming to make it big in the English capital, her life dissolving between present day London and a vivid dream.

In her dream state, Ellie is transported in time to the swinging 1960s. At the Cafe de Paris, she meets a young woman named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy of The Queen’s Gambit fame), and inquires about becoming a singer at the club. Soon Ellie’s life is paralleling much of Sandie’s, and it’s a life of shattering consequences.

Metaphoric duality is strong in this film, driving stylistic choices of setting, lighting and editing that reverb a growing dynamic style, beyond Wright’s trademark of lightning-quick editing, to supercharged sophisticated sequences, bound to elicit accolades from fans and attract a new breed of audience.

Wright’s vintage fandom of 1960s is romantically recreated with settings of nocturnal mirrored dance clubs adorned with chandeliers and glittery staircase, and a backdrop of hit ’60s songs.

This film is a departure from the director’s usual comedic wit (Hot Fuzz) and recent foray into feature documentary (Sparks – a music industry revelation that is highly recommended viewing).

But I digress. The chilling premise of Last Night in Soho draws from a weaving narrative (the less revealed, the better) made all the more intriguing with legendary British actors: Terrance Stamp, Diana Rigg, Matt Smith, et. al.

It appears that behind the message of abhorrent male violence is an alignment to the #MeToo movement, where generational sexual violence against women is scrutinised with an authentic female perspective. Edgar Wright, cannot do any wrong, wry comedy, modern documentary to hybrid neo-horror with sumptuous direction. He is fast emerging as a most exciting and innovative director leading media trends of transformative hybrid genres, seizing his extraordinary signature style and surpassing it.

Annette McCubbin

‘Last Night At Soho’ is in cinemas now.

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