Venice Film Festival 2021: Last Night in Soho
Edgar Wright's psychological thriller starts promisingly, but as it takes its characters down the sinuous corridors of glamourous Soho clubs, its charming ambivalence and well-crafted allegories begin to unravel
In a perfect world, all films would have an intimately lit scene of Anya Taylor-Joy dressed in a beautiful vintage gown while singing an a cappella version of Petula Clark’s soulful hit Downtown. Edgar Wright’s latest, Last Night in Soho, blesses the audience with such a scenario but woefully allows for the spellbinding quality of the moment to be drained as swiftly as rain going through clean gutters.
Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) is your good old small-town girl with big-town dreams. She moves to London from Cornwall to pursue her lifelong ambitions to become a fashion designer but struggles to fit in, haunted by ghosts of past and present. These feelings of displacement fuel the psychological thriller’s first act, a cleverly constructed kaleidoscope built upon Eloise’s crumbling state of mind. Here, metaphorical parallels are made tangible by an inescapable parade of mirrors, Wright determined on dizzying the audience as he takes them through the sinuous corridors of glamourous Soho clubs.
As Last Night in Soho unravels, however, the sharp vision of its early chapter turns blurry as the narrative swiftly drops well-crafted allegories in lieu of overexposed twists and a deeply-felt farewell to its charming ambivalence. The final result is never dull – with laurels particularly placed on the immersive mix of the banging soundtrack and accomplished cinematography – but struggles to combat the bitter aftertaste left by the certainty that beneath its shiny surface there was a much better film.
Last Night in Soho had its world premiere at Venice Film Festival and is released 29 Oct by Universal
Read more of our Venice coverage here