Movie Review: ‘Last Night in Soho’

By: 
John Thomas

Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie) and her mother have dreams of leaving the cozy charm of Cornwall, England for the glittery excitement of London – especially in the Soho neighborhood. Mother takes her own life when her daughter is just a child but continues to appear to her in mirrors.

Ellie lives a happy life with her granny, but still yearns for the London life, especially to see the home of “swinging 60s music” and fulfill her dream of becoming a fashion designer. The dream comes true as Ellie says goodbye to granny and boards a train for the London College of Fashion.

Her snobbish school dorm mates drive Ellie to seek lodgings elsewhere. She hears of a bedsit in the Soho neighborhood so arranges to meet the landlady, Ms. Collins (Diana Rigg). Ellie likes it immediately, and, upon seeing her mother’s image in a mirror with an accepting smile on her face, moves in.

Soho is everything she had hoped for: hip people, bright lights and even the famed 60s Cafe de Paris music hall. That night she dreams of entering the club. Descending the mirrored circular staircase to the dance floor, she sees not her image in the mirrors but that of a beautiful blonde wearing a flowing pink dress. The dress is fastened at the neck with a rhinestone collar.

In another dream she meets the blonde, Sandi (Anya Taylor-Joy), and they discuss what brought them to Soho with Sandi wanting to pursue a career as a lounge singer. To advance their careers in Soho, Sandi has a “teddy boy” manager, Jack (Matt Smith), and Ellie has the College of Fashion. Jack promises Sandi auditions but actually has other plans for her, plans she doesn’t realize until it is too late for her to turn back.

The next day Ellie bleaches her hair the same color as Sandi’s and designs a pink dress with a rhinestone collar. Both the hair color and the dress are a huge success with her classmates, elevating her stature at school to that of an equal.

In further dreams Ellie discovers that Jack is actually pimping Sandi for his male business associates and is not a talent agent. Not at all pleased with these new developments, Sandi begins planning revenge on Jack and the many men she is introduced to.

In her waking life, Ellie begins to see threatening apparitions of Jack and his many male associates. The visions also come to her in her dreams. In one, Ellie sees Jack murder Sandi. The visions and dreams are so intense, that Ellie begins researching newspaper articles from the 60s to find something on the death of an aspiring singer in Soho.

Instead of finding any reference to a young woman being killed, Ellie discovers many unsolved crimes that took place in Soho: men who have mysteriously disappeared over a long period of time. Murder is suspected, but without evidence or remains the cases remain unsolved.

The one question that continues to haunt Ellie is what actually happened to Sandi. While pondering this question, another thought comes to mind, she never did find out Ms. Collins’ first name.

Directed by Edgar Wright (Credits: Baby Driver, The Sparks Brothers), this 117- minute “see” production of a Cinderella story turns very dark.

johan@beachomber.news

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