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Last Night in Soho

I finally saw Last Night in Soho on HBOMax. I had wanted to see it when it came out late last year, but didn’t want to risk Covid in a theater. (We have little kids and we don’t want them to miss school, it would be a hassle.)

Great film! Edgar Wright is, of course, a virtuoso with the camera and in the editing room—but not just in the service of style, but of story.

I was introduced to him (as in, personally introduced) maybe 20 years ago at Comic-Con but only vaguely knew who he was. He was around my height, soft-spoken, bearded, and English, and one of my pals was talking to him at a booth. (Great story, huh?)

I’ve never been a big zombie fan so I never saw Shaun of the Dead or his other, early comedy-flavored projects. But I was blown away by Baby Driver—the stellar cast, use of music and first-rate storytelling.

Last Night in Soho also has great music—a killer soundtrack of 1960s English hits and deeper cuts. And the score by Steven Price is effective.

I’m sure most people are aware of the premise by now: mousy English fashion student Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie) moves to London and starts to dream of inhabiting the body of a wannabe pop singer, Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), from the 1960s.

If there’s a reason why this movie wasn’t a bigger hit—it was well-reviewed and respected, but didn’t set the world on fire—I think it’s because as cool as the story is, the premise seems to suggest a movie that’s even more fun.

It makes it look like it’s going to be a Back to the Future-adventure of the student having to live this woman’s life in the 1960s in order to get back home.

Without giving it away, that’s not what happens. The film goes in a darker direction that has a great twist—but the early sequence of Ellie immersed as Sandie in the 1960s is so glamorous and enchanting, it’s a little bit of a bait-and-switch (albeit a truthful one).

I was thrilled when John Barry’s main title to Beat Girl came up (in a great usage, as always for Wright). Killer track! This was John Barry’s first-ever film score, for a low-budget 1959 English juvenile-delinquent movie, and it’s all hooks. Here it is in the actual Beat Girl:

Barry really had it from day one!

Quentin Tarantino has a thank-you credit in Last Night in Soho; it’s because he suggested the title to Wright.

Anyway, a most enjoyable and dazzling film. To Edgar Wright and all his team—thank you!

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Robert Knaus
Robert Knaus
10 ביולי 2022

My favorite film of last year. Wright is one of the best filmmakers currently working. You need to see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, if nothing else.

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