Imagine all the people… had no idea who The Beatles – John, Paul, George, and Ringo- were. What if they never existed? Imagine if you were the only person on Earth who remembered them and their incredible catalog of music. What if you could publish Hey, Jude, Yesterday, Penny Lane, etc. under your own name? You would certainly become rich, wouldn't you? However, what would you have to sacrifice to get it? Universal Pictures offers Director Danny Boyle's (Slumdog Millionaire) version of what that might look like in this summer's new film, Yesterday.
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel; EastEnders) is a struggling musician who writes his own songs and works part-time at the local big warehouse store. Ellie Appleton (Lily James; Baby Driver) is his manager and schoolteacher who believes in his music a little too much. After years of playing to empty bars and venues, Jack has decided to give up on performing and go back to teaching. As he rides his bike home after his latest gig, suddenly power all over the world goes out at exactly the same time for twelve seconds. It happens at the exact moment Jack ends up in the path of a bus and he is hit, bruising his face and causing him to lose two teeth.
Once he gets out of the hospital Ellie buys him a new guitar (Because the bus hit him) and he starts to sing Yesterday. When all his friends look at him astonished he thinks they are playing an elaborate joke on him until he googles The Beatles and nothing comes up in the results. Suddenly Jack realizes he is the only one who remembers them and their songs. He starts passing those songs off as his own which garners him attention from Ed Sheeran and a recording contract. Of course, fame and fortune aren't all it's cracked up to be which Jack quickly finds out.
Patel is a gem and a diamond in the rough. His musicality and vocals are excellent which makes it a joy listening to him interpret these classic songs. James once again proves why she is one of Hollywood's hot, young actors as she portrays the bubbly schoolteacher with an underlying seriousness that is thinly veiled just below the surface. Sheeran adds a nice touch though he should probably stick to music. Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters) Is a bright spot in every scene and her comedic timing is spot on as always. I enjoy watching her in everything she is in and this film is no exception.
While the concept of Yesterday is unique the movie itself is a little slow and altogether predictable. The love story has been done time and time again and, of course, the lessons of "be careful what you wish for" and "fame and fortune come with a price" are classic themes that we have seen in movies before. Richard Curtis' script (Love Actually) is pretty good if cheesy at times but the idea just doesn't seem to translate onto film all that well.
I can't imagine a world without the brilliant music of The Beatles (or cocoa cola or cigarettes for that matter though the world would probably be better off without the latter) but for a brief second, we get to imagine what that might look like… we also get a bizarre sort of closer when John Lennon thanks the wonders of make up that is almost fitting and peaceful. I'd be curious to know if Paul McCartney has any thoughts on the film but all in all it's a decent idea with some good acting and an amazing soundtrack!