Seeing places you know well in films is always fun. In that respect, Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho can stake a claim to being the most fun I have ever had in a cinema. Every location is one I recognised. Even the Sainsbury’s I buy my lunches in is in the film. I walk past the Toucan pub and Soho Square almost every day. I even saw the film in Leicester Square, then immediately had to walk through Soho and the majority of the locations to get home.
Edgar Wright makes films that I usually love. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Baby Driver are three of my favourite films and the first two are endlessly quotable. Last Night in Soho is a departure in sorts from his style though. The comedy is sprinkled in gingerly, and it’s more of a thriller/suspense film than anything else, although it does touch into drama and even romance at times. Similar to Wes Anderson in the French Dispatch review last week, Edgar Wright films almost live in their own genre for the most part. Last Night in Soho doesn’t fit too neatly into that world for me.
A lot of the elements of his other films are present. There are countless fantastic transitions and excellent editing combining both the licenced music and score to create this feast for the eyes and ears. I saw it in a Dolby Atmos theatre, and it was stunning to experience. The performers all bring their best as well. Leads Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor Joy are genuinely excellent, both really becoming the characters and you buy everything they are doing in the film. Matt Smith, Michael Ajao and Terrence Stamp (General Zod is in this, mad right) all support well, even stealing some scenes they’re in.
Once again, like last weeks French Dispatch review, all the above elements are great, but I would not recommend this film to most people. It’s great to look at and I had a lot of fun with “Oh I walked past that place!” moments, but the film really lost it’s way for me narratively after a really strong start. I was in 100% on a fish out of water story with this really interesting twist with the 60’s playing into it, but then it just loses its way to the point where I just didn’t care at the end.
I try my best to avoid spoilers, and this isn’t really one, but the film touches on elements of Psychosis and even Schizophrenia, and then forgets about them until it’s next convenient to bring them up. Instead of a dive into the mental health issues it suggests, it diverts into a jump scare thriller that plays fast and loose with the rules of the world that seemed to be set up. I think a more grounded approach could have turned this into a much darker, difficult story but it’s one I would have been more invested in than the strange slasher/thriller we ended up with. The horror elements simply didn’t hit for me, something that I think really took away from my enjoyment.
There is a really interesting story here, in fact there is more than one. Both the 60’s and the modern day characters have really engaging stories. I would happily watch two movies about the characters in their own worlds with none of the more supernatural elements. While the way they intertwine leads to some great shots and transitions, but they never come together in a way that felt right to me.
All of the technical elements of this film are bang on. The editing is award worthy and the score and music are perfect. The film’s narrative and breaking the rules of the world lost me along the way and ended up as style over substance. It might work for horror fans, but I’m not one, so this one is a miss for me.
Good: The editing, the locations, the costumes, production design, and soundtrack are all excellent.
Bad: The horror elements and the throwaway mention of mental health issues lost me.
TL;DR – A rare thing, an Edgar Wright film I didn’t really enjoy.