Last Night in Soho

Celluloid Soho is taking another bow to (hopefully) rapturous applause with the release of Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho, a little while later than expected due to pandemic delays. The film stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin McKenzie and Matt Smith and is a time-travelling, lovingly recreated ode to the swinging 60s, with a twist of course.  Soho, of course, plays itself; with a bit of a makeover.

Eloise (McKenzie) is an aspiring fashion designer who is mysteriously able to revert to the 1960s where she encounters a dazzling fledgling singer, Sandie (Taylor-Joy). But the glamour of both era and area is not all it appears to be and the dreams of the past start to crack and splinter into something far darker.

For the director, long a Soho aficionado, there has always been a certain duality to his feelings. “I love London and I love the Sixties,” says Wright. “But with the city it’s a love-hate relationship. It can be brutal and beautiful in equal measure. It’s ever shifting too, with gentrification and new architecture slowly changing the landscape. With all this in mind, it’s easy to romanticise previous decades, even ones you were not alive for. So the point of the movie is to ask what’s behind the rose-tinted spectacles, and how quickly that part reveals itself.”

Anya Taylor-Joy takes it a step further.  “It’s a neon-fuelled nightmare – dark, but the darkness is juxtaposed with these incredibly bright flashes of colour. A realistic world, but one firmly set in a dream.”

“I loved the unexpectedness, and how you’re really engaged the whole time,” says her fellow leading lady Thomasin McKenzie. “You’re never sure what’s going to happen.”

Wright has cited 60s classics such as Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (with a whiff of the claustrophobia of the later, Paris-set The Tenant) and Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, featuring another iconic city, (this time brooding, out-of-season Venice) as major influences.

Included in the cast are real-life glamorous acting veterans and 60s megastars Terence Stamp, Diana Rigg, Margaret Nolan and Rita Tushingham.  Very sadly both Nolan and the inimitable Dame Diana are no longer with us but the film stands as a memorial to their talents.

It wouldn’t be an Edgar Wright movie without a blinding soundtrack attached and indeed the film itself is named after a song by band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, released in 1968. Interesting to see how Wright segues present day music with that of 50+ years ago… the possibilities are endless. 

Country girl heads to the big city looking for a life beyond the ordinary. Where else would she head to but the epicentre of London cooI, Soho.  But you’ll have to swathe yourself in cinematic darkness to find out how the story ends.  Not long now. 

Last Night in Soho opens 29th October.

Written by Gillian Smith.

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