When you hear the plot of the movie Yesterday, you may be forgiven for thinking that it would be better off as a question left for a bunch of stoned people to mull over whilst enjoying a bong hit or two. After seeing the trailer a few months ago I couldn’t help but feel excited for the film. However, I didn’t have the highest hopes for the film going in. I knew that I would like it but I didn’t know what other reviewers or the general public would think. I also realised that despite knowing a lot about the Beatles and their history and their songs, I have never really listened to them. I have never purchased an album or searched them out online. While there are some problems with the movie, the least it has done is give me a few more favourite songs.
Yesterday tells the story of struggling musician Jack (Himesh Patel), as he plays gig after gig with no prospect of success. After a particularly bad show he tells his lifeling friend and manger Ellie (Lily James) that he’s finally giving up. As he makes his way home from her car there is a worldwide blackout. This conveniently happens as he comes to an intersection and is knocked down by a bus. After waking up in hospital and meeting his friends, Jack comes to the horrible realization that nobody remembers, or much worse, nobody knows, who the Beatles are or what their music sounded like. Wrestling with this new knowledge, Jack goes on to find super stardom as he releases their music as his own. However, his relationships and mental health suffer with his new found fame.
I think we can all agree that the plot is formulaic and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what is going to happen. Obviously there is an unspoken romantic connection between Jack and Ellie that will either be resolved or not towards the end of the movie. Jack will wrestle with his conscience about stealing the songs and also about leaving his old life behind. Will it be a dream sequence? Will he wake up in the hospital bed and declare his love for Ellie and make sure the Beatles are back in our CD collections?
Himesh Patel has a great voice. He does well as Jack, playing him in a lowkey manner, as if the whole world is against him. He shares great chemistry with Lily James, who is in a supporting role here but does steal the show whenever she is on screen.
Joel Fry is great as deadbeat friend Rocky who accompanies Jack on his worldwide tour when he becomes famous. He provides great comic relief in an already witty movie.
Ed Sheeran has a few scenes as himself and I really enjoyed them. He plays himself as a bit of a jealous friend to Jack who gives him his first break.
Kate McKinnon of SNL fame plays an oily, soul sucking L.A agent who only views Jack as a product rather than a person who writes songs. She treats him as such and is hilarious in any scene she’s in.
Danny Boyle directs this indie-comedy. It is nowhere near as hard hitting or as dark as some of his previous work but it is the mark of a great director that he does work that he loves. His camera shots are universally known and are no different here.
Richard Curtis wrote the screenplay alonside Jack Barth who wrote the story. Curtis’ credits are impressive. He wrote on Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral. That dry, British humour is evident here in the quips and jokes made by characters.
I personally liked the movie a lot. I am a fan of musicals and rom-coms. I am a fan of most genres in fairness. I thought this was a solid movie. I wasn’t a fan of the John Lennon part. There was nothing wrong with the idea or the way the character was brought in, but I just didn’t like his face. The make up on the character made him look like he should be working as a teller in Gringotts.
I also don’t think that the Beatles’ music would fare as well as the writer thinks it would in this modern age. However, that is not a plot fall really as it is his movie and not mine.
All in all, a solid movie.