Imagine a world without Coca-Cola, Harry Potter (gasped) and, yes, The Beatles.
Director: Danny Boyle
Screenplay: Richard Curtis
Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James
Production: Working Title Films, Decibel Films
Geek Rate: Sky god worthy (5 out of 5 stars)
“Yesterday” suggests a world without The Beatles songs. What the world would sound like without their songs? And even without The Beatles, would they still be right all along in saying that hey don’t worry, love is all you need?
With trashy movies such as “Avengers: End Game” and endless variations of Spiderman home titles (yes all Marvel) hitting the big screen, the audience deserves a movie like “Yesterday.” It might not be your usual theme when it comes to movie viewing, but missing it out on the big screen is like King Isildur failing to grab the opportunity to destroy the One Ring. Your lost.
“I didn’t write it, Paul McCartney wrote it,” Jack says. “You know; John, Paul, George and Ringo? The Beatles? It’s Yesterday,” he says in disbelief. “It’s one of the greatest songs ever written!”
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a struggling singer-songwriter in a tiny English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie (Lily James). Then, after a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed … and he finds himself with a very complicated problem, indeed.
The concept is similar to Richard Curtis’ “About Time” (and more than what “Bohemian Rhapsody” could offer) but with a theme more than that of love and friends and family. It delves further into the issues of the music business and the idea of success in this new age. Dan Boyle’s style in movies jives perfectly well with Curtis’ trademarks style in films (see what I did there?).
I was hooked with Himesh Patel’s performance as Jack Malik and his surprisingly good chemistry with the beautiful Lily James as Ellie. The background of their story together was well established, and you will love the display of their friendship on the big screen. This is important because the audience needs to accept the concept of the movie. Telling the audience that there could be a world without The Beatles is no small feat.
I like Jack’s character from his role as a struggling artist to a person who is feeling unease with his sudden rise to fame, with songs that he knew he didn’t really write. The build over time of this lie will keep the audience’s interest and after it was over, as Jack aptly tells us, it feels like how Harry Potter felt after defeating Voldemort: tired but glad it’s over.
The supporting cast is great as well. My favorite is Alexander Arnold as Gavin who owned a recording studio beside a train track. I particularly enjoyed the time they recorded The Beatles songs, stopping whenever the train arrives. There is also Kate McKinnon, one of my favorite SNL hosts, as Jack’s new manager. Are managers really that evil? But McKinnon’s comedic style balances any hatred the audience could have towards her character.
And of course, there is Ed Sheeran as himself, who is I’m sorry to say, pretty bad, super bad actually, in acting. It’s like watching a parrot act. Harsh. I’m a fan but that’s the reality. However, I still enjoyed seeing him act on the big screen. Imagine if Ed Sheeran appears outside your door in the middle of the night, inviting you to sing on his concert? I’ll probably pass on the singing part but I’ll definitely come with him.
“Yesterday” is part love story and part tribute to The Beatles. The love story part is not as cringe-worthy as a Hallmark movie, but I do not believe for a second that Jack did not know that Ellie is in love with him. I mean come on, that’s Lily James for goodness sake! Apart from that, the love story does not necessarily weakens this movie, but it could have been improved.
“Well, it’s not Coldplay; it’s not Fix You,”
Clearly Boyle is great when it comes to music. The decision to have Himesh sing all the songs live is a great idea. I am not a fan of The Beatles, case in point, most recently I thought “Imagine” was one of their songs, but “Yesterday” will make you fall in love with them.
“Yesterday” is a movie that tells you that art is a part of our very existence, that it is part of our culture and history. This movie is not all about The Beatles. It does not care if it gives them justice or not, or if a single person will be enough to sing all their songs, or if there are people scandalized by the fact that John Lennon survives and reaches the age of 78 (he was the one shot outside his home, right?). “Yesterday” tells you that it is not important who sang the songs, what really matters is the music and the timelessness of their message. To ask the question of whether or not they could be culturally relevant on this modern time is laughable. The scene with Jack meeting the two persons who remember The Beatles is very telling (and the way they sang “Yellow Submarine” is very heartfelt).
“Yesterday” imagines a world without The Beatles, but it is not concerned on whether they exist or not, the movie is focused on their music, imagining a world without the messages their songs carry on their lyrics.
Sky god Worthy (5 out of 5 Stars). “Yesterday” will at times surprise you, but if there is a single thing I could agree with, it’s the failed opportunity to explore its premise deeper: imagining a world without The Beatles and its effects to the culture and society in the modern times. The ending of the movie is obvious from the get go but the ride is fun.
And our friends are all aboard
Many more of them live next door
And the band begins to play
We all live in a yellow submarine