The Beatles first took the world by storm over five decades ago. Since then they’ve remained an enduring part of music and pop culture history. The band and their music have become so iconic, in fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t heard of them. In the new rom-com, Yesterday, a musician wakes up one day and discovers he’s now the only person alive who remembers The Beatles. It’s a fun, quirky film full of meaning and, of course, good music.
As a longtime fan myself, I was thrilled when I first saw the trailer for the film featuring a story about the Beatles and their music. So, it topped my list as the must-see movie of the summer.
For ten years, Jack Malik and his childhood friend and manager Ellie have been pursuing his dream of being a musician. After yet another disappointing gig, Jack finally decides to quit against Ellie’s advice. But fate intervenes.
During a worldwide blackout, Jack is hit by a bus. He awakens to a world with no memory of the Beatles. It’s as if they never existed (along with other random things like Coca Cola, the band Oasis and cigarettes).
Jack soon decides to perform their music as his own. It’s not long before he is being hailed as a musical genius. But his newfound fame takes him far from home and Ellie.
As he learns the ins and outs of the music industry, he’s confronted with many ethically compromising decisions. Though he finally has the career he wants, Jack’s guilt plagues him. He begins to see the true cost of his choices, including the loss of Ellie.
MY REVIEW OF YESTERDAY
Yesterday is a unique film and an absolute delight. Though it features music from the Beatles, it does not meet the typical definition of a musical. The music and story elements blend together while sharing the spotlight individually.
UNIVERSAL MUSIC AND THEMES
I appreciate how Yesterday highlights the universality of music and how it unites us. This is particularly true of the Beatles whose songs have long crossed genres, borders, and cultures.
The journey Jack takes from obscurity to fame also features universal themes. It brought to mind the old saying about gaining the world but losing your soul. Jack must decide if it’s worth losing the simple things money can’t buy such as companionship, loyalty, and love. These are the decisions everyone has faced and can relate to.
It’s no surprise Yesterday is a memorable, heartwarming film. Director Danny Boyle is no stranger to such accomplishments having won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire. His direction paired with the script by Richard Curtis (About Time, Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill) makes for a power duo I would love to see more from.
Another strength of the film lies in its’ talented and diverse cast. Himesh Patel (Eastenders) may be a newcomer to the big screen, but he proves he can carry a film. His portrayal of the conflicted Jack Malik was surprising and poignant.
Patel’s chemistry with co-star Lily James is awkward, honest and sweet. Together, they perfectly portray long-time friends who may or may not want more from each other. With performances like this, it’s easy to see why Lily James is currently in high demand.
Saturday Night Live alum Kate McKinnon also impresses as Jack’s brutally honest, soulless music agent.
Cameo appearances by Ed Sheeran and James Corden add some fun to the film and provide popular culture personalities for today’s generation. Familiar faces from British productions, Justin Edwards and Sarah Lancaster also pop up in important but brief parts. And an uncredited appearance by the unrecognizable Robert Carlyle (Once Upon a Time) provides a lovely surprise toward the end of the film.
OVERALL IMPRESSION OF YESTERDAY
You don’t have to be a Beatles fan to appreciate Yesterday, but it certainly enhances the experience. In recent years, I have often walked away from the theater disappointed in today’s film offerings. But Yesterday exceeded my expectations.
I went in for the music but found myself captivated by the picture as a whole. It’s one of those rare movies which has both heart and soul. Yesterday is sentimental without being maudlin, awkward but sincere, inspiring and challenging in its’ ultimate message. In short, it is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.
Where to Watch: Currently playing in theaters
Content Note: Rated PG-13 for some sensuality and language
What is your favorite Beatles song? Have you seen the movie yet? Do you agree with my review of Yesterday? Let me know in the comments.
Photo credit: Universal Pictures