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While director Edgar Wright is still fresh in to his career and has churned out so many superb films, his ambition has managed to help elevate him in to a better filmmaker, one of bigger substance and larger scale. “Last Night in Soho” prove it, as it feels like that poppy bizarre sixties thriller that we might have actually seen in the sixties. Perhaps starring Natalie Wood? Maybe Peggy Lipton? “Last Night in Soho” has everything going for it; it’s the type murder mystery that audiences have been craving. It has a unique horror bent, and Wright has delivered on pop culture cult films like “Shaun of the Dead” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.”
It’s absolutely heartbreaking that in a world that openly embraced something as refreshing and fun as “Knives Out,” that “Last Night in Soho” was completely slept on, and in most cases, absolutely ignored. I don’t know if perhaps the timing was wrong, or what. “Last Night in Soho” is every bit an Edgar Wright movie, right down sharp edits, the very subtle nods to classic film and television, right down to the amazing soundtrack. And if you appreciate excellent soundtracks, Wright includes the likes of Dusty Springfield, The Who, and The Kinks respectively. Wright manages to merge modern and vintage sixties flavor so beautifully that, admittedly, I was kind of surprised when I realized the movie was set in modern times.
Wright, like main character Eloise, bathes us so much in sixties artifice that even the audience will have to continuously remind themselves that the film is a modern thriller. “Last Night in Soho” isn’t just a celebration of pop culture (that’s only a small piece of why it’s so stellar), it’s also a brilliant murder mystery, it’s a tale about grief, about mental illness, and it even takes a second look at the way we appreciate nostalgia as a whole. One of the more fascinating themes about the film is Eloise struggling with the fact that she lost her mother to a mental illness based suicide, and the horrifying prospect that she may also be facing the potential for mental illness.
There are so many of us with family history involving some kind of trauma and abuse, and it can often become a looming shadow over our lives. Thomasin McKenzie, who slayed in “Jojo Rabbit” is so fantastic as the protagonist Eloise. She’s a young girl reserved to her own little world that is thrust in to circumstances that are extraordinary for anyone. What we witness is not only her attempts to resolve the horror of circumstances involving young Sandie and her murder, but whether it’s all one big psychological breakdown.
Are we witnessing something otherworldly or is Eloise’s mental stability being destroyed from the pressure of fulfilling her dreams? Does her mother’s consistent appearance to her a sweet vision or a dark specter of her future? Is Jack the ultimate villain, or perhaps the devil?
Director Wright further completely layers his narrative with masterful turns by folks like Terence Stamp, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, and Anya Taylor Joy. The latter is the ultimate encapsulation of the sixties, a doe eyed, blond, cheese cake who is hopelessly swallowed up by predators doing everything they can to exploit her desire for fame. Director Edgar Wright is one of the best cinematic voices working today.
He just continues to challenge himself as a filmmaker, an artist, and as someone who holds up nostalgia and helps us get a better look in to its ability to help us miss the bigger picture. My favorite film of 2021, I really hope that movie fans come looking for it now that it’s in wider circulation. I also hope movie studios wake up someday and give him his due.
I think in a few years time, director Edgar Wright’s murder mystery thriller “Last Night In Soho” is going to be hailed as his ultimate masterpiece.