Rated R, which is a reminder that just because something is aesthetically pleasing, doesn't mean it can't be considered genre. At certain points, the movie gets extremely bloody and violent. There are a few impressive jump scares. But the thing that is probably most notable is that the plot is fairly sexual in nature. There's one shot that makes me question whether or not I saw nudity and I didn't rewind to decide if I saw it or not. Regardless, there's a lot of violence and sexuality. R.
DIRECTOR: Edgar Wright
Oh man, it's been a while since I sat down and watched a movie. I don't want to live in a world where I'm not watching a billion movies, but I can't deny that it was relaxing not having to write blog entries. Also, since I started writing this yesterday (Yes, I have already taken a break with what little writing I've gotten done), I'm now really angry. Like, fuming, annoyed, can't function angry. I'm asking for affirmation. The fact that I'm writing this right now is one of the most impressive things that I've ever done and I'm patting myself on the back for being such a strong goalsetter.
The thing is, I loved this movie. I'm not going out on a limb here. From what I understand, a lot of people loved this movie. I know my students absolutely dug it. I'm last to the party because I don't really go to theaters to watch movies anymore. Last Night in Soho was the movie I was waiting to watch. I'm sure multiple times over the course of this blog, I've proclaimed my absolute obsession with Edgar Wright. He's my favorite living director and I really need him to be a good human being because the world is a dumpster fire and I have lost all faith in humanity. But I must have been low-key annoying to watch this movie with. I finally bought the Blu-Ray and my wife and I are sitting down for a lovely evening. What do I do? I gush about visual and music choices. The entire time. Like, I've gushed before. This was next level. I was annoying me. If I could have thrown popcorn at myself, I would have. But the movie really is that gorgeous. I have probably made my feelings clear about genre being art, but Last Night in Soho makes an excellent contribution to the notion that horror can be art. From the first shot, which made me question what kind of brain Wright has, to the final moments, there are these absolutely perfect visual and auditory synthesis moments. I want to break down how the visuals and the music are these rad dares against type, but it's really hard to preach about how something is so great without actually watching it.
But the thing that I might secretly love most about Last Night in Soho is the unexpected thing. I mean, I know Edgar Wright. I know that everything's going to be extremely well crafted and built. But Last Night in Soho fills the void that Promising Young Woman left vacant. Listen, I like Promising Young Woman. But if you read that review (which I refuse to do because I just don't have the gumption to read that hack's point of view. He was so two years ago), there's definitely a small level of disappointment. It was supposed to be this artistic piece addressing sexual assault and the expectation that men have all this power. Now, I'm definitely partially in the wrong that I'm siding with the male director's perspective on the #metoo movement, but Wright does effectively bring the proper horror and magnitude to this issue. Now, the trailers effectively covered up that this was a story about sex work. There's implication that there's a sexual motif running through the movie, but the notion that Sandie was basically sold into white slavery is kind of hidden in the film. It's because Eloise is forced to watch something that seems alluring to her at first is what makes her this ideal avatar.
Eloise might make the perfect avatar. While she has this supernatural ability to see ghosts / the past, she starts the film with a laissez-faire attitude about her ability. The movie never becomes about Eloise discovering what she can do. It's her discovering what she can do about it. I mean, Wright does that old chestnut of the small town girl moving to the big city, forcing her to be even more alienated with a story that begins over her head. But it also forces the story to just start. We don't need to have Eloise's in-depth origin story. Instead, the story is allowed to highlight the themes of women being believed in society. Yeah, her reasoning for telling the story of Sandie comes from a high concept fantasy zone, but it works as an allegory for women not being believed. In that interrogation room, when Eloise tells the police about Sandie's murder, both people in the room don't believe her. But the man in the room instantly jumps to a place of entertainment. We hear him gossiping with the other police officers when Eloise is out of the room. But the female officer treats her with respect. Part of this is the notion that some things are hard to swallow. It's not that being skeptical is wrong. But it is how you treat the information before you dismiss it. That second officer naturally is skeptical, but follows up on it, regardless of how far-fetched the scenario gets.
I'm really wonder if my in-laws will like it. I mean, it is bloody and scary as heck. But Wright has created something absolutely unique here. It's this love-letter / criticism of a time period. When I wrote about American Graffiti and Stand by Me, I mentioned that those movies were a piece of nostalgia for a time that never existed. It's nice and interesting, but it's also completely skewed by nostalgia. I get the vibe that is a running motif throughout Wright's film. Eloise is obsessed with the '60s, primarily the aesthetics of the '60s. That I get. When I wrote about Cruella, I gushed about how gorgeous '60's London was. I understand Eloise's perspective. Honestly, I'm a little taken aback that people didn't comment more that she was a bit hack relying on old timey fashions, but I get it. However, the turn of the movie is the drop that '60s London was plagued by sex trafficking and prostitution. The fact that Mrs. Collins states that someone has died in every room in London may be a bit of hyperbole, but the point is made. Why Eloise is tortured in this film isn't that she's a bad person. She just has a very privileged view of history. History is the voice of the winners, not the oppressed and Eloise gets a haunting lesson of what it means to be part of a system that runs on oppression.
There was one moment that the movie was almost ruined for me. At one point, I thought that Wright was going to make the Johns victims and sympathetic. When the reveal of Mrs. Collins happens, the ghosts beg for Eloise to kill Sandie. After all, Mrs. Collins is after her and wanting to kill her. The house is on fire and her boyfriend (literally named John, which feels on purpose coupled with "Jack", a nickname for John) has been stabbed and is bleeding out. They have this sympathetic moment. But when she said "No", I straight up cheered. They aren't ghosts because they are worthy of sympathy. They were ghosts because they were damned for creating a Hell on Earth / London. It's a great moment and I completely love that Wright doesn't let the ghosts off the hook, despite making Sandie the antagonist.
If you didn't guess, I loved this movie. I loved it, I loved it, I loved it. It's not my favorite Wright film, but it is a welcome edition to his oeuvre.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.