VENICE, Italy (dpa) – Director Edgar Wright loves London. It has been his home for over 25 years. But he is also afraid of it sometimes. It’s a complicated relationship.
But it is this tension that drives “Last Night in Soho”, a psychological thriller that he calls his “dark Valentine’s Day in Soho”. The film will celebrate its world premiere on Saturday evening at the Venice International Film Festival, where it will debut out of competition.
In the film, Thomasin McKenzie plays Eloise, an aspiring fashion designer with an affinity for everything from the 1960s who leaves her small town to study in London. However, she’s not just any ordinary country girl who comes to the big city: she has visions. Most of these are her dead mother, but when she rents a room from Ms. Collins (Diana Rigg), she begins to dream of, and even about, the glamorous life of aspiring singer Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy) in the 1960s to live. But the dream life takes a dark turn and Eloise doesn’t seem to find a way out.
Wright started working on the idea over a decade ago. He had thought of psychological thrillers by directors like Michael Powell, Alfred Hitchcock and Dario Argento and wanted to do something like that in London. He had noticed that productions are rarely shot IN London.
“The point of the film is, in a way, that it is dangerous to romanticize the past,” Wright said at a press conference prior to the premiere of the film.
With the help of co-author Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Wright set out to strip the layers of the fun, stylish, “swinging 60s” image and look at some of the darker elements of the time.
Of course there are still fun fashions. Costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux, who was also behind the 60s set “An Education”, was hired for the looks. She was inspired by glamorous women like Brigitte Bardot, Cilla Black, Julie Christie and Petula Clark.
There is also a soundtrack of Wright’s favorites from the era, including a new version of Petula Clark’s “Downtown,” sung by Taylor-Joy in an audition scene.
“It may not seem like I and Eloise have much in common, but in some ways I grew up with my parents’ record collection (which ended in the 1960s),” Wright said. “The music was like my time machine to go back … all of these songs mean a lot to me, especially the ones that are pretty melancholy and emotional.”
The actors loved integrating music into the script and filming.
“The first music I really fell in love with was the 60s music, so that was lovely. I tend to make playlists for all of my characters, ”said Taylor-Joy. “It’s so wonderful to play with music.”
However, up until this movie, Taylor-Joy said that she really only sang to herself in the shower.
As a student and fan of British cinema in the 1960s, Wright also took the opportunity to cast icons of the era in key roles, including Terence Stamp (“Billy Budd”, “Poor Cow”), Rita Tushingham (“A Taste of Honey”) and Diana Rigg (“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”), to whom the film is dedicated. Rigg died in 2020 at the age of 82 and made “Last Night in Soho” her last film.
“The film was a very emotional experience to develop and produce, and it all has to do with the fact that she is no longer with us,” said Wright. “When we were told that she urgently needed to finish her work on the film, we knew what that meant. … We are all so incredibly happy to have known her and worked with her, and what a wonderful experience. “
McKenzie was not in Venice for the premiere as she is currently filming in New Zealand. But Taylor-Joy said they had “an instant sisterly bond”.
“We really took care of each other,” said Taylor-Joy. “It was wonderful to have a partner in everything.”
“Last Night in Soho” is slated to hit North American cinemas on October 22nd.
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