British filmmaker Edgar Wright, Baby Driver (2017), ditches the comedy to embrace a purer form of genre filmmaking with Last Night in Soho, a stylish and menacing little ghost story. Except it’s not the ghost story we think we’re getting, which has left some punters a little disappointed. Me, I’m here for it; Wright is a brilliant comic director, perhaps the best of his generation, but comedy can be a crutch, and it was thankfully inevitable that a director of his caliber would explore less forgiving material.
Cornish wannabe fashion designer Eloise “Ellie” Turner (Thomasin McKenzie) loves the music and aesthetic of the swinging ‘60s, but her dreams of a fabulous time studying at the London School of Fashion are much more fun than the reality of catty social games orchestrated by her bullying roommate Jocasta (Synnøve Karlsen) and almost complete social isolation from her hard-partying jaded London yoof classmates (except for nice guy John, played by Michael Ajao). But Ellie’s dreams of Soho’s swinging heyday are more than mere nighttime subconscious ephemera; it seems that Ellie is really projecting herself back in time to witness the life of Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), an aspiring nightclub singer who comes under the wing of slick teddy boy hustler Jack (Matt Smith). As Ellie’s dreams of the 60s unfold, it becomes clear that Sandie is being abused and forced into prostitution by Jack, and Ellie feels compelled to try and save this doomed girl who, in all likelihood, went to her grave over 50 years ago.