There is a special feel about the movie Yesterday. My initial reaction on seeing the trailer was one of suspicion, that it seemed like a setup; use the Beatles and their songs to generate a tenuous plot. A tad parasitic.
But I was pleasantly surprised. In its light-hearted way Yesterday entertains from start to finish. It has a certain self deprecating dry wit that is very English and so manages to pull off the unthinkable: use the Beatles‘ music to sell itself. Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting) has achieved what would initially appear to be an unlikely success.
The lead Jack Malik played by Himesh Patel carries the demanding role with a combination of charisma and realism. The film is also timely. It arrives when music of this period has been re examined for the umpteenth time and the Beatles really doesn’t need to come in for this type of scrutiny (again). You’d think it’d be a recipe for disaster but happily it isn’t.
Jack Malik has reached the end of his rather brief career as a singer/songwriter that began with his singing Wonderwall at a school concert and then finishing at a music festival in an outside tent. He tells his manager girlfriend (slash math teacher) that his career is over but she won’t accept it. After an ill fated accident he wakes up in a hospital bed to find out no one has heard of the Beatles. He plots a restart to his singing career claiming authorship to their songs. Who wouldn’t? Well nobody with a conscience – besides its a challenge to remember all the lyrics and this adds to the surreal hilarity (a google search doesn’t help). Eventually his conscience catches up with him after various twists and turns including hooking up with the girl. But not before Ed Sheeran calls him up to praise his songwriting talents and to invite him on tour (Ed Sheeran plays himself). From here on his rise to fame is meteoric. The hypothetical ‘what if’ is made real and for a full two hours you are drawn in as the scenario is increasingly persuasive (at least for me and I’m a Beatles tragic). Life really is stranger than fiction.
Director Danny Boyle
Screenwriter Richard Curtis
Jack Malik Himesh Patel
Ellie Lily James
Ed Sheeran Ed Sheeran
Debra Kate McKinnon