In LAST NIGHT IN SOHO (2021), Eloise, a fashion design student who idolizes the Sixties rents a room able to transport her in spirit back to Sixties London, where she encounters Sandie, a dazzling aspiring singer. What appears to be a glamorous rise to stardom warps into something far darker, challenging Eloise’s very sanity. With stylish direction by Edgar Wright and terrific performances by Anna Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Riggs, and Thomasin McKenzie, the film starts off amazing but goes from great to grating in its last act. Let me explain.
The film starts off with a lot of promise. After being accepted to London’s school of fashion design, Eloise moves from the country to the big city, where city life and the childish antics of other students pushes her to rent a room of her own. The room is special, however; somehow, she is transported to Sixties London, where she inhabits and follows Sandie, an aspiring singer who makes a grand entrance at an upscale club. These experiences bolster Eloise’s self confidence and inspire her designs, but things get very dark, telling a story of a young woman who is used and abused and possibly worse. Haunted by ghosts of the past, Eloise wonders if she is losing her mind until she discovers the truth.
The film starts off hitting all the right notes, and once Eloise is transported back to the Sixties, it veritably roars with fun. The glamor of London in the Austin Powers era, the terrific soundtrack, the performances by Anna Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith. Unfortunately, the fun doesn’t last long, and very quickly Sandie’s story plunges from a great height into very bad times. When the ghosts of the past go the other way to haunt Eloise’s every waking moment, the story goes from refreshing to rote, and both the haunting and the hostile antics of Eloise’s annoying classmates are laid on so thick as to become grating. It all comes together at a nice twist at the end, though with many questions left unanswered and possibly some misdirected sympathy.
Generally, audiences seemed to love this interesting film; me not so much. Overall, I’d say I loved the first half, while in the second half, I was watching the clock as much as the screen. By the end, I wondered something I haven’t before, which is: Maybe this should not have been a horror film? I know there is an important point being made here, which is the Sixties weren’t as glamorous as one might believe, but I’d say most people have already internalized that human nature wasn’t any different 50 years ago. If Wright had carried the wild spirit of the first half of the film into the second, I think he would have carried through to be a real winner for this viewer.
Anyway, again, audiences seem to love this interesting movie, and you might too, so you might check it out.