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Criticism | Last Night in Soho – Thrilling storytelling and exuberant Gothic aesthetic define one of the great movies of the year

It’s amazing how young British filmmaker Edgar Wright refines his style and improves his storytelling with each film. Since he directed Chumbo Grosso (2007), he has gone through Scott Pilgrim against the World (2010) and arrived at Baby Driver (2017), of which Edgar generates, in himself, several revolutions. Once hired as a director of British comedies stuffed with pop culture references, he quickly became an aesthetic aficionado – always restless and aloof from sterile filmmakers like Wes Anderson – ultimately pulled off a great feat by delivering an action flick. modern in the greatest Tarantine style. Edgar is without a doubt one of the most promising filmmakers in the global film industry and this time he is making what can be called his most mature and original work with the quaint Gothic Last Night in Soho. .

Openly advertised as a horror production, which draws from the source of the horror orchestrated by Dario Argento and Mario Bava, notably for its expressive aesthetic, already seen in the trailers and posters released, Last Night in Soho (in the ‘original) has an absolutely atypical first act of what is expected in these European films made by the aforementioned filmmakers. By the way, it is curious to notice that the acting line chosen by actress Thomasin McKenzie (Tempo) is completely different from what has been seen in the Giallo films and, in fact, resembles those conferred by the muses who starred in the productions of master Alfred Hitchcock. From her distinctive British accent to her methodical grimaces, the protagonist really seems to come straight out of a ’60s movie. Which has everything to do with McKenzie’s Eloise Turner, who, even living in the present, doesn’t care to hide its dated and quirky tastes.

Edgar Wright and Anya Taylor-Joy

While Eloise (or simply Ellie) is a particularly interesting and even eccentric figure, the girl takes on her superhero form when she “plays” the charming and provocative Sandy, hosted by the exuberant Anya Taylor-Joy ( The witch). The adventures of Sandy take place exactly in 1966, where the girl tries to embark on a musical career by performing in nightclubs well known at the time. For that, you’ll have to team up with Agent and Manager Jack, played by Matt Smith (Doctor Who), a kind of pimp who has no problem using the artists he manages in the meanest way possible. At first Ellie is enchanted with Sandy’s life, however, quickly all the glamor begins to turn into a despicable life, where everything seems to fall apart when she is confronted with the cruel reality that the artists face. that time.

Obviously the plot and its developments beyond the curious end up being an attraction in itself – besides, even though he continues to work with genre cinema, Edgar Wright takes everything very seriously this time around and doesn’t give up on creating tense and dramatic scenes – but, in truth, there’s no denying that Last Night in Soho’s big draw, for a change, is the carpentry built by the author himself.

Filled with mind-boggling scenes, performed almost entirely through radical choreography and avowed by Wright himself, the swapping of places in a dance that involves Thomazin and Anya, running from opposite sides of the camera, borders on the incredible to be bereft. digital tips. There is also a particular fascination in the work related to mirrors, where the filmmaker once again does without the use of computer graphics or even the artifice of green screens, the famous touches of chroma. All that happens in these evoked movements are analog cinematic stuff, like duplicate sets and mirrors sliding through the cameras, in addition to the frantic movement that is usual for Edgar and his editing partner Paul Machliss.

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The digital part of the film takes place in the creation of projections and shadow figures that must emerge from improbable places, causing a certain type of uneasiness necessary to generate situations that surrender completely to fantastic surrealism. In one of these movements, we see what the fusion of two distinct and absolute classics would be: first in the symbols of language and erotic fears evoked in Repulsion to Sex (1965) by Roman Polanski; then in the expressively bloody and narratively hermetic photograph of Suspiria (1977), by the aforementioned Argento. By the way, speaking of the Italian master of horror, the climax or central moment of confrontation from which we discover the truth behind it all is almost literally taken from another Dario Argento film, this- titled The Crystal Feather Bird (1970), especially in the infamous detail shot of the knife. Going further, we find the gloomy English atmosphere, a common sensation in the horror productions of Nicolas Roeg, see Winter of Blood in Venice (1973).

The film still has a nostalgic feeling of having brought the last roles of divas and Bond girls Margaret Nolan (007 Against Goldfinger) and Diana Rigg (007 at Her Majesty’s Secret Service), where the latter interprets a beautiful performance in the skin of the curious Mrs. Collins. It was also great to see veteran actor Terence Stamp (Superman 2 – The Adventure) take on a leading role and perform one of the strongest and most surprising scenes in the movie. Yes, the work has the power to shock on its own, far from what is usual in the genre. So Last Night in Soho is a lot more than it looks and may surprise those looking for a more classic structure seen in authentic horror movies. You who are already a fan of the filmmaker, don’t worry, Edgar Wright continues to make thrilling, referential and electrifying cinema as always, with these thrilling visual tricks and a soundtrack filled with sensational songs and important narrative. However, everything has now been built by the hands of a more experienced craftsman, who knows the right time to trigger the electric charge of action needed to make everything go as it should.

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