Last Night in Soho

Last Night in Soho

Last Night in Soho is an atrociously plotted attempt at reclaiming the giallo as a "good for her" meme. Anchoring two time periods, there's a horribly scripted romantic subplot at a fashion design university (in modern day London) and a woefully underused Anya Taylor-Joy, as a woman who desires to be a nightclub singer (in 1960s London). The haunted-flat portal connection between the two stories is a just-go-with-it approach that would be easier to swallow if it leaned more into the terror than an attempted emotional connection. Unfortunately, terror cannot be had with shoddy CGI and an over-reliance on jump scares. The more that Edgar Wright tries to make Soho resonate emotionally, the more his characters all behave in non-sensical ways. Nothing anyone does makes sense and every thing they do shows the strings being pulled without a sleight of hand. Nothing alters the set course of these characters even though certain traumas would actually create distance in actual human beings. Soho is simple puppetry with even simpler messaging.

I've never been a big Wright fan but I've always at least had fun with his movies. This one would've been better served as a single story because the two halves barely have anything at all colored in-between the lines, which makes the ridiculous third act teeter into ignominious territory. Everyone involved on this project has made better movies and will continue to make better movies than this Sucker Punch x Promising Young Woman blog post of a movie. Newsflash: Nostalgia for eras that we didn't live in might be misguided! But using both time periods makes every character a caricature, a prop, and there isn't enough visual flair or 60s costumes to cover that up.

Now, I don't think Edgar Wright is anywhere near a master filmmaker but I expect competence and some verve. This is where Last Night in Soho was such a massive disappointment to me. The rating is not in comparison to other films but what it sets out to do I think it does very poorly. And the most damning weakness is in the characters, which is so often Wright's strength. Here they are not characters but a means to an end. A cheap red herring here, a love interest there (why these two would continue to talk after all the dead ends is just because Wright needs someone else to enter the flat and the methodology to get there is immensely tone deaf). The most upsetting is Taylor-Joy as a a tragic figure whose character-building stops the moment it becomes tragic because that’s all she’s meant to be. Add in the dirty old man and college mean girls who are mean simply to push the student into outsider status and it’s a complete cast of tropes. Wright has no interest in any of his characters other than getting us into the scenario—which isn't even an interesting scenario—so he can do a lil silly switcheroo.

Soho is the most disappointing new release from a big name director that I've seen in many years. At its best, there's some camp value in its overwrought "attagirl!" moments that are directly handed to the viewer with zero nuance. At its worst, it's the most painfully lame movie I've seen that was held back from its 2020 release for 2021's theatrical comeback.

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