Austin Burke’s review published on Letterboxd:
An aspiring fashion designer is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters a dazzling wannabe singer. But the glamour is not all it appears to be and the dreams of the past start to crack and splinter into something darker.
This film is vastly different from anything we have received from Wright before. We anticipated a distinct style going in, and while we still feel his touch, the genres explored are so different from what we are used to from him. Last Night in Soho embraces intensity through simplicity, but the plot itself is not so simple. He tells this story in a way that feels easy to comprehend, but the idea of Eloise “traveling” back to the 1960s gets a bit more complicated when this web of murder and lies begins to come to fruition. The distinction between these two time periods is outstanding from a visual perspective, as the lavish lifestyle of the past is built through the incredible use of color and cinematography. We get incredible effects that take us back and forth between the two leads and time periods, but the focus is always on the narrative.
As beautiful as his films are, Wright always has a hold on the kind of story he is trying to tell. This time around, we are getting less jokes and more scares. These aren’t conventional scares, as the third act brings us some things we have never really seen before, but not all of them land as intended. The film will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat, but I never found it all that scary, so I am hoping this is not what general audiences are looking for. As the past starts to haunt Eloise, she begins to see things that wear her down mentally, and a few of these moments feel more on the cheesy side than anything. The story gets so wild in the third act, and it feels like it is constantly going for that shock factor. This all feels a bit different from the first two acts that work much better because of how reserved and subtle they are.
That drastic difference between all three acts causes the film to feel inconsistent. Prior to this issue, it was on pace to become one of my absolute favorites of the year. There is nothing to fault visually, as Wright never fails to impress in that regard. Another standout is the powerhouse presence of Anya Taylor-Joy. Sandie is young, passionate about what she loves, and ready to take on the world. This (of course) resembles our lead in present day, but Eloise lacks the confidence that Sandie uses to her advantage. Sandie has so much faith in her abilities, but her story takes a turn once she meets the wrong person, and everything that happens becomes too much for Eloise to handle. All of this comes together to cause for a chaotic series of events that stands out as one of the most unique stories of the year. Originality is key with a movie like this, and Last Night in Soho is genuinely one of a kind.
🔜The French Dispatch