Last Night In Soho is a little repetitive, but features wonderful re-creations of pre-swinging London and a moving final performance from Diana Rigg
Last Night In Soho Cert: 18, 1hr 56mins
Quant Cert: 12A, 1hr 26mins
Passing Cert: 12A, 1hr 38mins
Antlers Cert: 15, 1hr 39mins
Some films seem to have your name on them and given that I grew up listening to early Cilla Black, have spent half my working life in Soho and spent lockdown with not just one fashion student in the house but two, Last Night In Soho is certainly one.
After all, it’s about Ellie – played by Thomasin McKenzie – a young, nervous fashion student coming to modern-day London to study at a college in the heart of the West End, only to find herself magically, miraculously, slipping back in time to Soho in the early 1960s.
But are these dreams, visions or a plot device?
After all, it’s about Ellie – played by Thomasin McKenzie (above, with Matt Smith and Anya Taylor-Joy) – a young, nervous fashion student coming to modern-day London to study
Part of the appeal of Edgar Wright’s clever and wonderful-looking film is that it’s never quite clear. All we – and Ellie – know is that when she goes to bed in her old-fashioned bedsit, strange things happen.
Such as finding herself in the Café de Paris watching Cilla.
Or, to be more accurate, watching a beautiful, ambitious young woman – who we soon learn is called Sandie, played by the excellent Anya Taylor-Joy – watching Cilla and dreaming of becoming a singer herself.
Like the initially excited Ellie, what I was hoping would ensue was glamour, Soho nostalgia and lovely 1960s frocks. What Wright soon gives us, however, is something much darker and sleazier.
It’s a little repetitive and flirts unhelpfully with the idea of real mental illness, but features wonderful re-creations of pre-swinging London and a deeply moving final performance from Diana Rigg.
Anyone needing another hit of 1960s fashion might want to give Quant – a documentary about miniskirt pioneer Mary Quant, made by Sadie Frost – a try. You could argue such an enduring fashion innovator deserves something more cinematically original than the straight-up-and-down talking-heads tribute she gets here, but the archive clips are an absolute joy.
Anyone needing another hit of 1960s fashion might want to give Quant – a documentary about miniskirt pioneer Mary Quant (above), made by Sadie Frost – a try
Passing is adapted from the 1929 novel by US author Nella Larsen and refers to the practice of pale-skinned black women choosing to ‘pass’ as white. It’s an explosively sensitive subject for any film-maker but Rebecca Hall, making her directorial and writing feature debut, pulls it off magnificently.
Shot in black and white, this is such a subtle and intelligent picture.
When two former childhood friends from Harlem meet again by chance in a smart New York hotel, a complex situation emerges. The nervous Irene (Tessa Thompson) is only ‘passing’ so she can escape the city heat in a cool but racially off-limits hotel.
The beautiful, blonde-coiffed Clare (Ruth Negga), however, has chosen to pass permanently. Her racist husband has no idea he is married to a mixed-race woman.
And so their friendship is grudgingly revived, with Clare driving it forward and Irene, who is married to a African-American doctor and volunteers for a black activist charity, more reluctant, appalled her friend is living such a lie.
Negga and Thompson are fabulous in an exquisite film that is about a lot more than race.
Antlers may have a moody atmosphere of dereliction and be produced by Guillermo del Toro but at heart it’s a horror film we’ve seen many times before. Yes, there’s something nasty deep in the American woods… again.