Last Night in Soho: A Dark Ride Through the ’60s


Watching the film Last Night in Soho is like taking ‘shrooms and playing the best ‘60s hits on your record player as you blissfully soar backwards in time. This coruscating 2020 film directed by Edgar Wright casts a psychedelic spell on its audience and takes them on a dark ride through life in the 1960s. Between the film’s mesmerizing aesthetics, captivating soundtrack, cinematography, entrancing acting, and, most notably, the stupefying end of the film, this movie leaves the audience breathless. 

Director Edgar Wright is known for his quickly moving, satirical films – a sharp contrast from the unnerving tone of this bone-chilling spectacle. Comparing Shaun of the Dead to Last Night in Soho is like comparing white to black. The film stars actors Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin McKenzie, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, Sam Claflin, and more talented people. Critics on IMDb rated it a 7.1/10, and Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 76% while Metacritic gave the score of 65. Though the film premiered in September 2021, the DVD release date was January 18th, 2022, which opened the film up to new pairs of eyes. 

Eloise Turner (Thomasin McKenzie) is an aspiring fashion designer who lives in a modern day small town with her grandmother, Gran Peggy. After getting accepted into a Soho fashion school, she faces the real world in the city as creepy men and bitchy roommates surround her. She rents a room from a boarding house run by Ms. Collins (Dianna Rigg) and befriends a peer named John. Eloise’s power is that, in her sleep, she goes back in time to Soho in the ‘60s and lives through the reflection of an uprising singer named Sandie. Over the course of several nights, Eloise watches as Sandie is mistreated by the show-business men and falls into drugs, alcohol, and is forced into prostitution. These visions go on until Eloise sees a vision of Sandie being stabbed by her manager (Matt Smith.) The movie follows Eloise’s journey to find justice for Sandie by bringing her murderer to justice as visions from the past haunt her in real time.

The cinematography is excellent as the shots include details that the viewer will be stunned by, such as foreshadowing details, reflections of Eloise in shots that you have to look closely to see, the switching of Eloise and Sandie in each other’s costumes, and so much more. One of my favorite cinematographic scenes is when Sandie is selling herself to stay in show business, and Eloise is pounding on the reflection to get her to stop. The pressure is so intense during that scene, and keeps building until Eloise breaks the glass and grabs Sandie. The scene is shot beautifully, and the emotions are swirling. There are so many great single shots from the movie because the cinematography itself is so masterful, but what really drives the visuals of the movie is the aesthetics. 

A part of the main appeal of the movie is the intense colors that flash on the screen. Neon lights, flashing strobe lights, psychedelic visions, and much more inherit the screen during half of the movie. This aesthetic is mostly used when the visions from the ‘60s are on screen. I literally felt high when I was watching this movie because I was so immersed in Sandie’s world. From the hypnotic ‘60s scenes to the modern day scenes where Eloise is being haunted, the aesthetic is an iconic feature of this film. It is incredible that a movie can make me feel like I’m actually tripping just from the visuals themselves, not even to mention the soundtrack, acting, and the trippy plotline. 

The soundtrack consists of ‘60s hits such as “Starstruck” by The Kinks, “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You” by James Ray, and many more good songs with notable artists; however, the main song for the movie is “Downtown” which is actually sung by Anya Taylor-Joy. “Downtown (Downtempo)” performed by Anya Taylor-Joy – Official Music Video – Last Night in Soho – Bing video. The soundtrack enhances the film in a way that makes the audience truly feel like they are back in the swinging sixties. Despite the happy and danceable soundtrack, the movie is darkly demented.

The acting is phenomenal as everyone plays their role to the best degree. Anya Taylor-Joy steals the show with her breathtaking acting. In every role she plays, she nails the character so well to the point where you can believe she IS the character, and that is very much the case in this movie. From her facial expressions, her walk, to her tone of voice, she becomes the character beyond any other role. That is not to say the rest of the cast did not do well, because they certainly performed their parts to the fullest, too. Matt Smith becomes a detestable character that takes the viewers for a twisted rollercoaster of emotions with his alluring presence yet detestable actions, Diana Rigg absolutely was made for the part, and she shined in her final film role. Thomasin McKenzie is the only person I could imagine to fill the shoes of Eloise.

Overall, the film captures the audience and allows them to witness the terror that Eloise faces when she attempts to serve justice to Sandie by finding her murderer. The emotions during this film were spectacular as apprehension, rage, and utter desolation sink in. I wanted Eloise to find Sandie’s killer so badly! I was hateful toward the men who took advantage of Sandie. The movie’s scenes are graphic and intense which adds to the emotions felt. Sandie is a victim of the violent show business run by evil males, and Eloise suffers with her through it. Last Night in Soho undeniably is one of the best films I have ever watched in my life, especially due to the plot’s climactic ending. If a movie can make me feel powerful emotions this strongly, make me feel like I am tripping, and make me fall in love with Sandie, then it is worth watching again.