Film Review – Yesterday (2019)

It is a fact that ‘The Beatles’ are the greatest pop band in the world. Not an opinion, but a fact! It doesn’t take an idiot to work out that their catchy tunes influenced many bands that without them there would be no ‘Oasis’ (hint, hint). If God’s son was born in Israel randomly, the four messiah’s of music were born in Liverpool, England also randomly. To make a film where the Fab Four’s music is the energetic force behind this film is long overdue. The world and its viewers are expected to know these songs fluently and if the young viewers of today don’t, there is no better way for them to learn about the greatest music of all time by watching Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle’s amazing film.

The plot is where a struggling musician realises he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed. All over hitting his head during a power cut, is what has stopped him from forgetting the greatest pop music of all time. The fact that Jack Malik played perfectly by Himesh Patel plagiarises ‘The Beatles’ work is an amazing premise alone. Will he get caught? Will he be in a quandary to admit the truth? Or will he or won’t he give up his overnight stardom for love? Watch the film! That’s an order because it’s that entertaining, enthralling and you’ll walk out elated.

Yesterday’s leading lady, Lily James following her success from ‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again’ has made nothing but the right choice to appear in another feel good musical. First ‘ABBA’ and now ‘The Beatles!’ Is a Guns N Roses musical from her too much to ask for? (I have written that script/musical if anyone wants it). James’s Ellie Appleton is charming, supportive and amorous to Jack, even before he commits the fraud. The fact that she is his only groupie is a perfect reason why we become emotionally attached to her as we yearn for Jack and Ellie to be together. Jack’s dilemma of fame and fortune or love and commitment will be a hard decision indeed.

There are seventeen ‘Beatles’ songs carefully selected by Boyle and Curtis. A scene where Ed Sheeran, playing himself challenges Jack to write a song in ten minutes is comedic and exciting. For Jack to sing and plagiarise ‘The Long and Winding’ road to impress Sheeran and other groupies, makes you realise that this is one of the most underrated brilliant songs by Paul McCartney. Sheeran flatters Jack with a beautiful metaphor: “You’re Mozart and I’m Salieri,” thus accepting defeat and accepting he’s second best. Sheeran plays himself beautifully, modestly and amiably that you’d hope he’s like this in real life.

There are many surprises in ‘Yesterday.’ No spoilers, but one can say that It’s not just ‘The Beatles’ that don’t exist in this timeline. The film may leave you to ponder, what piece of popular culture would you plagiarise confidently if it didn’t exist? Watch out with one jaw dropping ‘Beatles’ cameo. When you see him, you’ll compare him to be like Jesus. (Hint, hint). In all honesty, Richard Curtis’ script is superb and conventional to his other films. The dialogue is catchy, witty and noticeable like ‘Love Actually’ and ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral.’ What leaves it shy from a perfect 5 star rating is Danny Boyle’s direction as there are no Boyle traits present in this film. There are no risks, it’s too clean and conventional. Perhaps we’re so used to Boyle’s darkness, hence if he wants to add a light-hearted film to his resume, he needs to have a distinct style that defines his direction. Spielberg can transition from Light to dark from ‘War Horse’ to ‘Munich’ and you’d recognise the Spielberg traits. Sadly Boyle fails to show that in ‘Yesterday.’ Nonetheless, don’t let this knit picking bother you. It’s the legendary music and the chemistry of our two protagonists that make this a great watch. It’s without a doubt a feel good film that will make you obsess with a ‘Beatles’ phase for a very long time.

Aly Lalji | [rating=4]

Comedy, Fantasy | UK, 2019 | 12A | 28th June 2019 (UK) | Universal Pictures | Dir.Danny Boyle | Himesh Patel, Lily James, Kate McKinnon, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar

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