Last Night in Oh No
Warning: mad spoilers!
If you are familiar with Edgar Wright, you know that his movies are delightful and hilarious masterclasses on editing, pacing, and visual comedy. You may have seen posters around lately for Wright’s latest film Last Night in Soho starring Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor Joy. This movie follows a young, troubled woman named Eloise who can see the life of an aspiring 1960s singer in her dreams. The singer, Sandy, is manipulated into being a prostitute, leading her to become a serial killer who exclusively murders her clients. It is later revealed that she is Eloise’s landlady in the modern day. This film, while seemingly having an exceedingly interesting premise, is a convoluted mess with little to offer other than aesthetics. It fails to create realistic and relatable characters and instead uses convenience to push its plot forward, lacks any sort of humor outside of ‘haha we live in London” and has an utterly confusing message.
Before completely trashing this mess of a movie I would like to begin on a positive note. The aesthetics of this movie are absolutely mesmerizing with a color palette that spoon feeds your eyes delicious servings of beauty. The vivid lights dance around the screen to create an alluring scene that leaves the viewer with a tantalizing mixture of elegance and fear, well, despite all the obvious product placement. This movie really made me want to listen to music with my Beats by Dr. Dre™ headphones and drink a nice cold Coke a Cola® while wearing my Vans® shoes and taking shots of Jägermeister®! Moving forward, the editing of the movie is more of an iffy subject; while creative and experimental, the pans between Eloise and Sandy have no internal logic. In some scenes we see Eloise in the mirror, perfectly copying Sandy’s movements such as the scene where she meets Jack for the first time and puts her elbow on the bar while Eloise mirrors the movement in the mirror (ha) but later into the film Eloise and Sandy move completely independent of each other, which prompts me to believe that Edgar Wright simply said “woah, it would be cool if the characters did this right now,” without actually thinking about how it works within the universe. What makes even less sense is when Eloise is no longer in the mirror and instead switches bodies with Sandy but in later scenes is trapped in the mirror and has to burst the wall in order to escape and briefly hug Sandy, which is never revisited or explained. The lack of any sort of continuity and lapses of logic appears several times throughout the film. An extremely minuscule detail that bothered me when I watched the film was when Eloise’s love interest, John, appears at the library with all the things Eloise left in the classroom when she ran out amidst a mental breakdown. John had no idea that she would be in the library, they had never been there once throughout the movie, and he was surprised to see her, so they clearly had no sort of prior communication. Despite this, he has all her things and gives them to her. How in the ever-loving fuck did he know she would be there? Was he simply carrying her stuff the entire day, with the chance that maybe he would see her? Why does this film fail to have any semblance of logic?
While we are on the subject of John, let's go into his role in the movie. John's role is entirely to be a puppy chasing after Eloise for no apparent reason. She is rude and awkward towards him the first few times they meet and they never have an actual conversation with each other apart from cringey apologies, John asking if she is okay, and a hookup that ends in disaster. John’s character has no sort of function other than to be nice and enable Eloise’s insanity. There is no logical reasoning for him to be so completely obsessed with her, but it makes me question his moral compass as a character. This could have easily been fixed if they had made John Eloise’s long-term boyfriend which would have made the unyielding support make sense, but no, he is simply a boy she met in uni, and hardly knows yet is completely entranced with her. The trend of characters having no sort of function outside of existing to shape Eloise’s character continues with her roommate/full-time bully, Jocasta. Jocasta is mean. That. Is. it. Why would a movie need room for nuance when you can just typecast characters that are so unrealistically mean that we just have to hate them? Now look, I am not saying that people like Jocasta do not exist, I'm sure there are millions of Jocastas around. But they do not try to make her at all like a real life “Jocasta” but instead have her bully Eloise for her suicidal mother and constantly heckle her without anyone seeming to give a shit or wanting to defend Eloise. The pièce de résistance of shitty character writing and lack of continuity has to come at the end of the movie, when during that horrible ending—which I will go more into depth about later—Jocasta gives a small clap to Eloise for her fashion show despite the fact that Eloise literally tried to murder her! Does everyone forget everything that has happened in the past in this movie!
Another painfully unrealistic aspect of the movie is that Eloise is constantly running around, screaming and having seemingly schizophrenic episodes and no one tries to help her at all. I do understand that a lot of people ignore those with mental health issues and such but let's be realistic; Eloise is a young white woman who went to the police spitting batshit insane theories. There’s no way they wouldn’t have tried to contact her family. The movie tries to drill into us that “omg, Eloise never asks for help that’s why she’s so fucking crazy” and accumulates to the men-ghost-people in the final scene picking up the phone and telling her to help. This, of course, makes no sense at all because Eloise ends up trying to desperately help Sandy, despite her being a serial killer who poisoned her, stabbed John, and, oh yeah, this is all happening while the house is literally burning down. Once again, this film does not attempt a single bit of logic because they are having a solid 10-minute sequence in this house that is burning down. If this conversation was happening in real life the characters would have suffocated, and the foundation of the house would have collapsed in. I also would like to add that a movie can have unrealistic portrayals while still having logic. In the movie Synecdoche, New York, the character Hazel lives in a literal burning house but it is established that the house wouldn’t kill her right away, so it makes sense that the characters do not have a sense of urgency to leave. In Last Night in Soho this kind of surrealism is never established so it just looks entirely idiotic that the character is casually in a burning house. One more thing I would like to add about the burning house scene is the fact that Eloise was literally about to die from being poisoned but she just Popeye-spinaches the fuck out of that and decided she was fine and was able to have enough strength for the proceeding events.
This film also attempts a huge red herring by making us believe that the old man following Eloise around is the present day Jack. If this does not make you hate Eloise then I don’t know what will. She just assumes he is Jack without any sort of investigating or questioning, it is simply based on a hunch she has. It is revealed that “Jack” is actually a man named Lindsay, who used to be a police officer and is shown speaking with Sandy in one of Eloise’s visions. In present day Lindsay is a beloved creep and is only in the movie for us to think he’s Jack. Eloise is convinced that Lindsay is Jack and tries to get a confession out of him by secretly recording him. Could she have simply just asked the bar staff, who seems to know the old man well, his name? No, of course not, that would have made sense which would be completely off theme for this film. Anyway, long story short, Eloise fucking inadvertently murders him and this is never mentioned again throughout the movie. She is never questioned by the police or punished in any way, the movie just progresses with the hope that the viewer will just kind of forget about this whole thing and continue to root for Eloise.
Despite everything I have already described, I think the most painful part of this movie is how ridiculously unfunny it is. So many of the jokes only make sense if you live in London or know a lot about it. I watched this movie with an English friend who had to explain the South and North London joke for it to make a bit more sense to me, and it still wasn’t funny. The only joke in the entire movie that seemed to land amongst me and the audience is the scene where Eloise assures her land lady that she won’t spontaneously leave in the middle of the night and then the camera cuts to a scene of Eloise spontaneously leaving her dormitory in the middle of the night. Haha get it, because she said she wouldn’t do that then the opposite happened, that’s some wacky irony there!
The final scene I want to get into is that horrendous and completely out of left field ending. After all of the death, destruction, and decimation that the movie placed before us the ending sequence is by far the most unsatisfying piece of garbage I have seen in a long time. It is a cute little glimpse into the near future where our character has a successful student showcase of her first-year project collection. Quick tangent, this has nothing to do with anything but by God, the dresses in her show were so immensely tacky that I have no idea why everyone was giving it such high praise. Maybe if this was a high school show but she literally goes to a top fashion university, how is this acceptable? Anyway, the movie ends with everyone congratulating her and her mother appearing behind her, something that happens twice and is mentioned a few times in the movie but is never actually addressed which leaves us confused as to whether this is supposed to be a sweet moment, or a horrifying foreshadow of a schizophrenic episode that lies ahead for Eloise. Either way, it's corny as fuck. The movie ends with Sandy in the mirror blowing a kiss at Eloise and Eloise bopping the mirror back. What a fitting ending for a relentlessly terrible film. I am still in awe of how the director behind Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs The World and Hot Fuzz could direct such a trash fire but alas, it happened and there's no going back. If you enjoyed Last Night in Soho I hold no judgement towards you, but the deep flaws circulating this movie are impossible to ignore so while it had a bit of entertainment value going for it, the problems within the story line cannot be disregarded and for that it cannot be forgiven to me.