Yesterday, everyone knew The Beatles. Today, only Jack remembers their songs. He’s about to become a very big deal. From Academy Award®-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) and Richard Curtis, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually and Notting Hill, comes a rock-n-roll comedy about music, dreams, friendship, and the long and winding road that leads to the love of your life.
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel, BBC’s Eastenders) 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, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again). 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.
What We Thought:
Himesh Patel will charm audiences in the completely delightful Yesterday. Despite being a huge Danny Boyle fan, I was nervous a bit before seeing the movie. I thought it could end up super cheesy or try way too hard, but I have to say the film really worked for me.
The concept is definitely out there and why I had a bit of concern. A struggling musician (Patel) is hit by a bus the exact same time of a worldwide electrical blackout. He wakes up in the hospital not knowing about the blackout. While with some friends. he soon realizes The Beatles and their music never existed and he rises to fame playing their songs as his own. That idea could be taken in all kinds of odd directions, but I really liked what they did with it.
It works for many reasons. First, Richard Curtis is an incredibly accomplished screenwriter, but one of his sleeper films is About Time. In that film Domhnall Gleeson turns 21 and realizes he can time travel. It’s another odd concept especially compared to Curtis’ bigger films like Notting Hill and Love Actually. I really liked About Time and see its similar qualities in this film. The main protagonist is easy to root for and not the normal lead you expect. The love interest is there, but not as in your face as a romantic-comedy. Yes you hope he gets the girl, but you also cheer him on in his own life experiences. The love story is there, but it’s sort of the secondary story which I appreciate.
Yesterday also works because of the cast. I’m not overly familiar with Patel, but he nails this role. He is charming and goofy and lovable. You genuinely care for him because he comes across as a genuine person. Most people wonder what it’s like to become famous and he becomes the world’s best musician practically overnight all while staying human. Lily James is always good. She is almost unbearably cute and has mastered these types of roles like you’ve seen in Baby Driver. I’m over Kate McKinnon’s whole shtick, but other than that, the rest of the supporting cast is quite good.
Then there is the music. Obviously the bigger the fan of The Beatles you are, the more you’ll love the movie, but even non-fans should be won over by Patel. I’m a fan and like Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, found myself tapping my feet to the music. And yes Yesterday has been stuck in my head ever since I’ve seen the movie. My favorite song (You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away) didn’t make the cut, but Director Danny Boyle uses music as flawlessly as anyone in the game.
When I walked out of seeing Yesterday I said it was delightful and there is no better word to describe it. It’s just a nice film with great music and good leads. Sometimes you want a good film minus superheroes or monsters or agenda based storytelling and that’s what this is. If you like movies like Sing Street, About Time, Pirate Radio and the music of The Beatles then this is…
Director: Danny Boyle
Writers: Story by Jack Barth, Screenplay by Richard Curtis
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Matthew James Wilkinson, Bernie Bellew, Danny Boyle, and Richard Curtis
Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Kate McKinnon