By Amanda Gilmore
Aspiring fashion designer Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie) leaves the English countryside of Cornwall to attend fashion school in London. Ellie loves the 1960s and to her luck, when she moves into her new flat she can mysteriously enter into ’60s Soho. It’s there she encounters fashionable aspiring singer Sandy (Anya Taylor-Joy). However, Ellie quickly learns that the glamour of the era isn’t what it appears to be. She gets pulled into the grim life Sandy was forced into until the past starts haunting Ellie into the present.
Director and Co-Writer Edgar Wright swings us into the dazzling world of London in the ’60s, with the help of outstanding set and costume design. During Ellie’s first foray, Wright uses mirrors to show how Ellie and Sandy are separated but attached. It’s magical to watch these mirror scenes, especially when they become more sinister. He spins this nostalgic fun into a Psychological Horror filled with terrifying ghosts. Wright uses lighting, sound and creative camera work that creates tension, suspense and scares.
Wright along with Co-Writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns have crafted a psychological horror centred around the horrors an aspiring female singer in the 60s, and even today would experience. Making it an examination of a moment in time when women would be conned and forced into a life where they were treated as currency. Without giving too much away, this is also a story of women taking back their agency.
Sandy’s story is being witnessed by modern-day Ellie, along with its audience. And Ellie, like us, iscarrying the beliefs of today into what she sees in the 60s. McKenzie excels at showing the increment changes in Ellie’s personality changes. She begins as a joyful, innocent girl heading to the big city. Once she visits the 60s, she becomes emboldened. And once we hit the third act, McKenzie shows the terror of Ellie’s daily life. It’s a feat to accomplish and McKenzie excels at every turn.
She’s joined by the force that is Taylor-Joy. Her undeniable talent to express emotion with one single glance is fully utilized. In the beginning, she shows Sandy’s determination and hope. As time passes, Sandy’s life becomes a prison run by her manager Jack, an impressive performance from Matt Smith. With this, Taylor-Joy makes us witness the light in Sandy’s eyes disappear. Additionally, there is a delightful performance from Diana Rigg as Ellie’s rulemaking live-in landlord.
Last Night in Soho is a Psychological Horror that builds tension and gives scares. It’s got a strong central storyline, pitch-perfect performances and has ample amounts of creative flair.
Last Night In Soho screens at TIFF ’21:
Fri, Sep 10 at 9 PM at Roy Thompson Hall
Thu, Sep 16 at 6 PM at Princess of Wales
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