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Last Night in Soho: Edgar Wright & Thomasin McKenzie on the downside of dreaming
"Follow your dreams" may not always be the best advice.
Edgar Wright's new psychological horror film, Last Night in Soho, unfurls before you in a sometimes dreamlike state, where the here and now blurrily floats between there and then. Stylish Soho is both here — London today, the new home of Thomasin McKenzie's freshman fashion student Eloise (Eli) — and there — Swinging London of 1966, where Anya Taylor-Joy's Sandy has big dreams of being the next It Girl.
By following her dreams, Eloise somehow finds herself in both worlds, and sharing inexplicable blurred space with her stylish counterpart. Alas, following said dreams leads her into some serious nightmare territory.
With dreaming being so fundamental to the story, SYFY WIRE asked Wright and McKenzie if following one's dreams doesn't come with some downside?
"Well I think 'follow your dreams' in the future is right. I think the tricky thing is that following your dreams into the past is where you can get into trouble. Because then there's a danger in romanticizing the past," Wright said. "And, in a way, I would have daydreams about going back to the '60s, as a sort of cultural tourist. But then the more I would find myself thinking about that, and daydreaming about being in a different decade, I started to think, 'Well, is nostalgia a failure to deal with the present day? Is it a way of not coping with modern life?'"
"Where the dream turns into a nightmare is that [Eloise is] not a time-traveler like Marty McFly who could change future events by changing things in the past, she is merely an observer," Wright continued. "And where that becomes a truly nightmarish proposition is when it's impossible for her to avert tragedy, or stop disaster happening... And that's what kind of chills me: What if you went back, but you couldn't do anything? That's something that's always preyed on my mind."
"I think it's kind of nice advice," McKenzie said of the old credo to follow your dreams. "Maybe just make sure they're realistic, you're not setting expectations too high, and you're not becoming too caught up in the timeline or the expectations you've set for yourself or what you're supposed to achieve and when. Be easy on yourself, and don't get caught up in the final goal and the final dream. Enjoy the journey along the way."
Eli's Last Night in Soho journey begins with her dreams of becoming a fashion designer, whose time in Soho — both now and then — informs her style, and the film's style, all the way through. As such, we also asked both Wright and McKenzie how style informs the story.
"Some of the complicated shots in the movie, arise out of a necessity to... the more that you can do things in unbroken takes, or the more that you can do things in-camera, maybe sometimes shots that slightly fool the eye... in a way it's just kind of keeping the spell going, you know, you don't want to break the spell," Wright said. "Eloise is going on a journey through her dreams, and the more that you can show it in a very immersive way, as she sees it, the better. So in a way, that's sort of the design of a lot of those shots — to take you on the same trip that Eloise is going on. And in the way that you might start to think, 'How is this done?' would be the same way that Eloise is starting to think, 'How is this happening?'"
"That's the drive of the film really. Eli's drive is fashion... so it definitely plays a huge part. And also it adds a layer when Eli and Sandy, when we start seeing them in the same outfits, and things start getting disorientating and confusing for the audience too," McKenzie said. "I don't think I've ever done as many fittings for any other film as I have for Last Night in Soho, it was a lot of thought and detail went into every single costume, so it was really amazing to witness the work that went into that, that the costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux... all the work, the time she put into creating such beautiful, beautiful looks."
You can get your own beautiful, dreamy look at Last Night in Soho in theaters everywhere now.