Last Night In Soho (4 stars)

Last Night In Soho

Edgar Wright directs Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy in this dream-turned-nightmare

Glitz and glamour peel back to reveal an ugly and abusive underbelly in a film which challenges the notion of London as the place where dreams are made. It's the latest from Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Sean Of The Dead) and with its MeToo fuelled story and pair of gutsy female leads is something of a surprise given the director's hardly impressive track record with female characters post-Spaced. Perhaps we can credit the input of Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917, Penny Dreadful) who is Wright's co-writer this time round, though the concept is his own.

It follows the dangerously out of her depth Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie), a wannabe fashion designer, fixated on sixties style. When this shy teen, who is haunted by the ghost of her mother, secures a place on a prestigious course she makes the move from Cornwall's Redruth to the capital, where she encounters an intimidatingly sleazy taxi driver and hideously snobby roommate (Synnove Karlsen).

Seeking lodgings elsewhere, Eloise finds a room in the townhouse of the formidable Ms Collins (the late Diana Rigg, in a fun final role), where she starts to experience visions from the era of her obsession, featuring the beautiful and determined young Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), whose potential as a singer is jeopardised by her involvement with a slick but ultimately unsavoury character, played by Matt Smith.

As the two worlds morph unsettlingly, Wright joins up the time periods by the continuing presence of creeps and threats to women, showing how things haven't changed as much as we'd hope. The whole affair is executed with real style; it's seductively shot by regular Park Chan-wook collaborator Chung Chung-hoon (Oldboy, The Handmaiden) in a way that draws you deep into Eloise and Sandie's dream-turned-nightmare, with sixties icons Terence Stamp and Rita Tushingham popping up alongside Rigg, and horror conventions cleverly utilised and subverted. The twists and turns are predictable and it's not terribly scary, however hard it might try, yet it's affectingly performed by a mesmerising McKenzie and Taylor-Joy, righteously angry and often thrillingly cinematic. For those who love London, the picture it paints ain't pretty, but it's born of real violence and fear.

Available to watch in cinemas from Friday 29 October.

Last Night in Soho

  • 4 stars
  • 2021
  • UK
  • 1h 56min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Edgar Wright
  • Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Thomasin McKenzie, Diana Rigg, Terence Stamp, Rita Tushingham
  • UK release: 29 October 2021

A psychological horror thriller from director Edgar Wright.