REVIEW: ‘Last Night in Soho’ sadly falters after strong start

Soho looks like a pretty fun place to visit in London, but if the main character in this movie is around, things might get a little to intense.

This film, directed and co-written by Edgar Wright, stars Thomasin McKenzie as Eloise. The young woman has recently moved from the country-side to a section of London to earn a degree in fashion. Immediately, Eloise finds herself fed up with her partying dorm roommate and decides to move into an apartment at an older building.

While it seems perfect at first, Eloise soon finds herself having visions of another young woman, named Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), who lived in the same apartment and wanted to be a lounge singer during the 1960s. While the visions start off fascinating, they soon unveil a dark mystery from the past.

“Last Night in Soho” begins in impeccable fashion. The first half of the movie is superb, hooking an audience in with an interesting premise. It was all really good, until it wasn’t.

Despite hitting a great stride early on, “Last Night” stumbles as it gets past the halfway point. The movie’s best asset, being the main character exploring a thrilling mystery, is sidelined as the focus turns to Eloise having more intense visions, causing her to act out in manic ways.

The film reveals as it goes on that Eloise is able to sometimes see apparitions of the deceased, and these become more regular as the movie goes on. This ends up cheapening the experience, as the film turns from solid suspense to generic haunting horror.

Also working against the picture is the reveal in the third act being a major let down. The twist inserted is simply unsatisfying considering what was being built up. In fact, the whole climax of the movie is a disappointment.

lastnightblog
Courtesy Focus Features.

It’s a shame, too, because the movie starts off so well. It was almost like a darker take on the concept featured in “Midnight in Paris,” where a character was able to enjoy their favorite time period in the past. However, the execution with this element in “Soho” becomes messy in the second act.

The movie is thankfully helped by its lead performance. McKenzie legitimizes the fascination, stress, fear and conviction Eloise experiences on her roller coaster of a journey.

Unfortunately, the supporting group of characters aren’t as intriguing to follow. It’s surprising, too, coming from an Edgar Wright film. The characters featured, though, just feel one dimensional, from a stereotypical mean girl roommate to a love interest who seems way too good to be true.

The same is true with characters from the past. One is a shady manager named Jack, who is played with little nuance. Anya Taylor-Joy at least gets to have some fun with her 60s character Sandie, though.

“Last Night in Soho” might be 2021’s biggest disappointment considering how strong it was out of the gate. It still has some things working in its favor, such as McKenzie’s performance, the neon 60s aesthetic and competent direction by Wright. However, the execution in the second half really torpedo its score. 2.75 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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