In Last Night in Soho, heroine Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) goes on an incredible journey through London, both present and past. We chatted with co-writer and director Edgar Wright to find out more.

The tale sees Eloise, an aspiring fashion designer, mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters a wannabe singer, Sandie. But the glamour isn’t all that it appears to be, and these dreams of the past start to crack and splinter into something much, much darker. It’s a story that’s full of contradictions, and that’s how Wright wanted it.

“I love London and I love the Sixties,” he says. “But with the city it’s a love-hate relationship. It can be brutal and beautiful in equal measure. It’s ever-shifting too, with gentrification and new architecture slowly changing the landscape. With all this in mind, it’s easy to romanticise previous decades – even ones you were not alive for.

“Maybe you would be forgiven for thinking that time travelling back to the Swingin’ Sixties would be amazing. But then there’s a nagging doubt. Would it, though?”

“Maybe you would be forgiven for thinking that time travelling back to the Swingin’ Sixties would be amazing. But then there’s a nagging doubt. Would it, though? Particularly from a female perspective. Sometimes you’re talking to somebody who was there in the ‘60s, where they would talk very effusively about it, stories of the wild times. But you always feel that there’s that little hint of what they won’t say. Sometimes, if you ask, they’ll say that it was a tough time as well. So, the point of the movie is to ask what’s behind the rose-tinted spectacles, and how quickly that part reveals itself.”

Last Night in Soho

Wright realised that his protagonist would be a young woman coming up to London for the first time.

“I didn’t have any other version of it,” he admits. “Part of the inspiration was that I wanted to make a film with a female lead. But also, I was conscious that many of these ‘60s films, mostly written by men, were cautionary tales about girls coming to London. At the time, they probably felt quite ground-breaking. But now some seem sensationalist and moralistic, like they’re slapping down the idea of liberation and girls being able to make it on their own.”

Wright was keen to challenge that cliché. So, the exploitation and vice of the era – and specifically Soho – became his story’s backdrop.

“The Sixties casts a long shadow over London, but particularly over Soho,” says Wright. “Soho has always had the higher echelons of glamour and showbiz, but it’s also this den of iniquity. It’s steeped in music and film history, but also criminal history. I’ve had more night-time walks through Soho than I can possibly count, and you get thinking about what this or that building used to be. You feel the echoes of the past, and not that far away.”

Last Night in Soho

While Wright was drawn to making a ‘60s thriller, replete with horror elements and the show-stopping style of that time, he didn’t want to simply glamourise the past. Putting a modern protagonist into the ‘60s story allowed him to bring a wariness to proceedings, and avoid romanticised nostalgia.

“There’s a duality in that sense,” Wright explains. “Like Eloise’s character, there’s a love for the best of the decade. It’s a fascinating period, the way culture changes from 1960 to 1969 is extraordinary, probably the biggest leap in any decade. But there’s also a fear of what’s going on under the surface. If you spend too much time romanticising the past, you can miss the danger that’s in front of you.”

Last Night in Soho is available February 23 on Blu-ray and DVD. Pre-order now at JB Hi-Fi.