Last Night in Soho starts shakily, with the slow establishment of Ellie’s (Thomasin McKenzie) move to London to study fashion. Her struggles are about as thrilling as any freshers’ week that’s not your own, including her clashes with roommate Jocasta (an entertaining Synnove Karlsen) who exists purely to bully Ellie, and John (Michael Ajao), who exists purely to have his offers of help rejected.

Thankfully, things greatly improve once Ellie starts visiting the past, where she slips into the life of wannabe singer, Sandie (a mesmerising and soulful Anya Taylor-Joy). The glitz, glamour, and grime of ‘60s London are captured beautifully, with superb costume design from Odile Dicks-Mireaux, production design from Marcus Rowland, and rich cinematography from Chung Chung-hoon.

Once the mood switches, Wright achieves some of the most powerful sequences of his career. An unforgettable dancefloor scene set to the torrid wails of Siouxsie and the Banshee’s Happy House is viscerally overwhelming, visualising Ellie and Sandie’s shared trauma in a moment of profound horror.

For such a popular director, Wright has always been quietly political, digging at small-town conservatism and the misery of conformity. This script, written with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, is his most explicit yet, resolving into a howl of despair at how the entertainment industry uses and abuses so many talented young women. The jukebox soundtrack is phenomenal as always, and Wright uses it to chilling effect, combining it with the twisted sounds of Steven Price’s score.

McKenzie grows into a great lead performance, really selling the horror of her situation and fighting hard for justice no matter how far away it seems. Whether she, and Sandie, and all the girls like her, ever find justice through the weight of historical trauma is a question not given a simple resolution, and perhaps that is fitting for a fight that continues to this day.

RATING: 4/5


INFORMATION

CAST: Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, Terrence Stamp, Michael Ajao, Synnove Karlsen,

DIRECTOR: Edgar Wright

WRITERS: Edgar Wright, Krysty Wilson-Cairns

SYNOPSIS: 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.