Edgar Wright used to be that guy who made the Cornetto Trilogy. It was an easy way to describe him – following British cult comedy series Spaced (1999–2001), he made a big splash (or should we say, splat) in 2004 with Shaun of the Dead and followed that with Hot Fuzz (2007), before rounding the thematic three-piece off with The World’s End (2013). The trilogy’s moniker refers to a running gag of characters eating Cornetto ice creams in each movie, and became a motif that has dogged his career for years.
It was clear from the outset that Wright’s talent would propel him onto the world stage, however the level of versatility and ingenuity that would underpin his subsequent work was something entirely unexpected. Not satisfied with simply pumping out silly satirical comedies, he has persistently delivered one banger after another, each leaving a permanent stamp on popular culture.
In 2010, Wright proved he was capable of stepping beyond the British scene with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – a highly stylised romantic action-comedy about a teen who must battle and defeat the seven ex-boyfriends of the girl he loves. Based on a comic book of the same name, it was a critical hit and went on to become one of the biggest cult movies of the decade.
His next hit was Baby Driver in 2017 (but not before writing screenplays for Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin and Marvel’s Ant-Man), which told the story of a young getaway driver whose gift behind the wheel is dictated by a love of music. It was another highly stylised affair with a brand of action that was majestic and almost symphonic. Most importantly, it was unlike any of Wright’s previous films, yet still encapsulated the techniques and style that qualified him as a true auteur.
Wright instilled confidence within his audience with the aforementioned films, which in turn amplified their expectations – his movies have now become ‘event viewing’. He had effectively navigated his career trajectory into the same stratosphere occupied by the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson and Richard Linklater, and his name alone affords him a rock star status.
With the eyes of the world now watching his every move, Wright’s new film, Last Night in Soho (2021), would not only bolster his staying power, but also prove to be his most sophisticated feature to date.
Delving into the world of giallo (a particularly stylised genre of Italian horror-thrillers), Last Night in Soho spins a deliciously macabre tale of glitz and glamour and the price that comes with it. Following the journey of a young fashion student living in London for the first time, the film explores a fantasy-realism trope as she begins to have visions of a woman from the 1960s, whose own ambitions lead her into a twisted world of sexism, misogyny and perversion. Before long, the visions become her reality as she eventually inhabits the woman’s body and uncovers a violent crime.
From his humble beginnings with Shaun of the Dead, all the way to Last Night in Soho and the music documentary feature The Sparks Brothers (2021), Edgar Wright’s career has been as unpredictable as it has been eclectic. If your awareness of his work is limited to just the Cornetto Trilogy, then it’s in your best interests to keep going.