Movie Review – Last Night in Soho – Psychological Thriller
My Rating – 3 out of 5
Plot Summary (Storyline) – Last Night in Soho
First up, the premise of Last Night in Soho is an alluring and intriguing one. An introverted but talented young woman from the boonies arrives in the big, bad city to chase her dreams but it’s her nightmares that do her in. Throw in a little bit of supernatural and horror, and you might have a winning recipe. This one, kind of fails at the altar because it confuses those elements, botches up the execution, and leaves you feeling rather unfulfilled by the end of it all. There are some good things going for it and I’ll come to them shortly, but let’s get to the story first. A story that begins and ends with the perpetually nervous Thomasin McKenzie!
McKenzie is Eloise Turner, better known as Ellie, a young girl from Cornwall aspiring to study Fashion Designing in London. She lives with her grandmother, Peggy (Rita Tushingham) after the death by suicide of her mother (played by Aimee Cassettari). Ellie’s mother was also an aspiring Fashion Designer who’d moved to London chasing her dreams but not being able to cope with the pressure, committed suicide. Peggy is now the rock in Ellie’s life, who herself was a seamstress, and thus the love for textiles and designing seems to have come down from that side of the family. When Ellie gets admission into the London College of Fashion, she is elated but also skeptical about the move.
Ellie’s arrival in London and at the college is eventful in the way that her peers, led by the snooty Jocasta (Synnøve Karlsen), look down upon her rural upbringing and retro fashion sense. The fact that she designs her own clothes, listens to music from the ’60s, and admires the fashion style of that era adds to the derision heaped upon her in class and out of it as well. Tired of the constant sniggering and veiled bullying, Ellie shifts into a bedsit run by an elderly woman, Ms. Collins (Diana Rigg). It is here in her room, that Ellie starts getting visions while sleeping, about Sandie, a blond young woman who also lived in that room in 1966.
An aspiring singer, Sandie is the polar opposite of Ellie – confident, ambitious, and self-assured. She visits a pub, gives an impromptu performance, and is picked up by Jack (Matt Smith) who can get her similar gigs and probably a permanent act as a singer. But it turns out that Jack intends to pimp Sandie out to his influential clientele, thus embarking Sandie onto a life of decadence and lurid debauchery. All this plays on Ellie’s mind like a showreel, first when she sleeps and then even when she’s awake. They are so real that Ellie starts to hallucinate that she’s Sandie (she even dyes her hair blonde and dresses like Sandie), trying to imbibe her confident personality.
Then one night, in her vision she sees Sandie attacked with a knife by Jack, apparently in frustration at her refusal to entertain the lewd old men Jack sends her way. Ellie is convinced that she’s seen Jack at the pub she works (a silver-haired old man who seems inordinately interested in her) but tragically finds out too late that she’s wrong. By this time she’s convinced (in a paranoid state of mind) that she can find Sandie‘s murderer and sees visions of the dead old men chasing after her. It affects everything in her life, her relationship with her new boyfriend is strained, her studies are disturbed, and she is mentally a mess.
But far too late, comes the realization that she is interpreting her visions wrong…. Sandie is not what she thought her to be and events didn’t happen exactly as she imagined or visualized!
Conclusion – Movie Review of Last Night in Soho
The soundtrack and background score are excellent and the performances put in by the cast are competent but attempts at bringing out the scares through Ellie’s ‘visions’ don’t work as well as they are intended to. It could have been made into a far more visceral movie with a chilling climax but what it ends up having is a melodramatic climax in a chaotic tale. Director Edgar Wright could have done a better job with the screenplay. But all that being said, Last Night in Soho is quite watchable, because of its interesting premise and the desire to know what happens at the end, which in itself is a nice surprise! Go ahead, then…
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