The visuals in 'Last Night in Soho' are better than the story
Last Night in Soho is a psychological suspense film centered on young cheerful Eloise, played by an innocent Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit, 2019), who moves from a remote England town to current day London for university. Through her mysterious gift for visions, and her one-bedroom apartment, Eloise is transported every night to the 1960s living the life of an aspiring singer who encounters predatory men and murder. Like a contemporary Alice in Wonderland, being transported to a glamorous nightlife is addictive at first for the sheltered ingenue. But when the nightlife gets dangerous, this other woman's past starts to haunt our heroine's present, blurring the lines dividing reality and fantasy.
Director Edgar Wright's (Baby Driver, 2017) strengths lie in humorously twisting movie genres with witty dialogue and swift, punchy editing; resulting in extravagant originality with films like Shaun of the Dead from 2004 (twisting the zombie apocalypse genre), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World from 2010 (twisting the coming-of-age genre through video games), and Baby Driver from 2017 (embellishing the action-drama genre with carefully mixed rock music). Last Night in Soho feels less exciting and less original than expected, because it doesn't twist the suspense or thriller genre. It sits comfortably in the middle of it (most likely because it's attempting to be more mainstream and more accessible to a larger audience).
Despite dedicated performances from the two leading actresses, the surprises are predictable and the pacing intermittently lacks energy. Please remember, though, these issues don't mean this film is bad. It's a visual masterclass with cinematography, set design, and visual effects that are totally arresting. Using flashing neon lights, mirror reflections, and menacing shadows makes it feel like a tribute to Dario Argento films of the 1970s (like The Bird with the Crystal Plumage from 1970 or Suspiria from 1977).
Female defiance is the topical theme of this film (I will not be an object for men to amuse themselves!) along with the dangers of nostalgia for a bygone era and how it ostracizes people from living in the present. Great visuals but not a great story. Last Night in Soho is not Edgar Wright's catastrophe. But it's not his best.