Review | Last Night in Soho – Pulsing narrative and exuberant gothic aesthetic define one of the year’s big films

It’s amazing how, in each film, the still young British filmmaker Edgar Wright it refines its style and improves its way of telling stories. since when did coarse lead (2007), went through Scott Pilgrim against the World (2010) and came to Baby Driver (2017), that Edgar generates, within himself, several revolutions. Previously assumed as a director of British comedies filled with references to pop culture, he quickly became an aesthetic enthusiast – always restless and distant from sterile filmmakers like Wes Anderson – has finally achieved a great feat in delivering a modern action movie in the greatest style tarantinesque. Edgar is without a doubt one of the most promising filmmakers in the world’s film industry and, this time, he makes what we can call his most mature and original work with the Gothic picturesque Last night in Soho.

Openly publicized as a horror production, which draws on the source of horror orchestrated by Dario Argento e Mario Bava, especially for its expressive aesthetic, already seen in the trailers and posters released, Last Night in Soho (in the original) has an absolutely atypical first act of what is expected in these European films directed by the aforementioned filmmakers. In fact, it is curious to note that the line of action chosen by the actress Thomasin McKenzie (Weather) is completely different from what was seen in the yellow movies and it looks, in fact, like those conferred by the muses who starred in the master’s productions Alfred Hitchcock. From her distinctive British accent to her methodical grimaces, the protagonist really seems to have stepped straight out of a sixties movie. Which has everything to do with McKenzie’s Eloise Turner, who, even living in the present, doesn’t make a point of hiding her dated and quirky tastes.

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Edgar Wright e Anya Taylor-Joy

Although Eloise (or just Ellie) is a particularly interesting and even eccentric figure, the girl assumes her superhero form when she “embodies” the charming and provocative Sandy, who comes to life by the exuberant Anya Taylor-Joy (The witch). Sandy’s adventures take place exactly in 1966, where the girl tries to embark on the musical career performing in well-known nightclubs at the time. For that, you’ll have to team up with agent and manager Jack, played by Matt Smith (Doctor Who), a kind of pimp who has no problem using the artists he manages in the nastiest way possible. At first, Ellie is enchanted with Sandy’s life, however, quickly, all glamor begins to turn into an abject life, where everything seems to fall apart when she is faced with the cruel reality faced by the artists of that time frame.

It is obvious that the plot and its developments beyond the curious end up being an attraction in itself – by the way, even if I continue working with genre cinema, Edgar Wright takes everything very seriously this time and doesn’t give up on creating tense and dramatic scenes – but, in fact, there’s no denying that the great attraction of Last night in Soho, for a change, is the carpentry built by the author himself.

Filled with stunning scenes, performed almost entirely through sweeping choreographies and confessed by Wright himself, the exchange of places in a dance that involves Thomazin and Anya, running from opposite sides of the camera, borders on unbelievable for being devoid of digital tricks. There is also a particular fascination of the work in relation to mirrors, where the filmmaker once again dispenses with the use of computer graphics or even the artifice of green screens, the well-known chroma keys. Everything that happens in these movements mentioned are analogical cinematographic tricks, for example, duplicated sets and mirrors that slide through the cameras, in addition to the frantic movement that is usual for Edgar and his editing partner Paul Machliss.

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The digital part of the film takes place in the creation of projections and shadowy figures that need to emerge from unlikely places, causing a certain type of discomfort necessary to generate situations that completely surrender to fantastic surrealism. In one of these movements we see what would be the fusion of two distinct and absolute classics: first in the language symbols and erotic fears alluded to in Repulsion to Sex (1965), from Roman Polanski; then in the expressively bloody and narratively hermetic photography of Suspiria (1977), from the aforementioned Silver. By the way, speaking of the Italian horror master, the climax or central clash moment from which we discover the truth behind it all is almost literally taken from another film by Dario Argento, this one called The Bird of Crystal Feathers (1970), especially in the infamous detail plan of the knife. Going further, we can notice the gloomy English atmosphere, a common sensation in horror productions made by Nicolas Roeg, empty Winter of Blood in Venice (1973).

The film still has a nostalgic feeling for bringing the latest roles of the divas and Bond girls Margaret Nolan (007 Against Goldfinger) e Diana Rigg (007 to Her Majesty’s Secret Service), where the latter plays a great performance in the shoes of the curious Mrs Collins. It was also great to be able to see the veteran actor again. Terence Stamp (Superman 2 – Adventure) gain a prominent role and perform one of the strongest and most surprising scenes in the film. Yes, the work has the power to shock by its own means, far from what is usual in the genre. So that Last night in Soho it is much more than it appears to be and may surprise those looking for a more classic structure seen in authentic horror movies. You who are already a fan of the filmmaker need not worry, Edgar Wright continues making the pulsating, referential and electrifying cinema as always, with those exciting visual tricks and a soundtrack full of sensational and narratively important songs. However, everything has now been built by the hands of a more experienced craftsman, who knows the right time to trigger the electrical charge of action necessary for everything to happen as it should.

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