John, Paul, George, and Ringo. These names will live on forever as some of the best musicians to ever live. Collectively known as The Beatles, these men created arguably the greatest band this planet has ever seen, and most likely will see for some time. The Beatles are responsible for countless hits that defined a generation and have withstood the test of time; they are still massively popular today. Imagining our world without them is almost impossible, new film “Yesterday” grapples with this challenge.
Directed by Danny Boyle, “Yesterday” tells the story of a struggling British musician named Jack Malik. He performs one small gig after another, making absolutely zero progress in his career. After another disappointing show, Jack is just about ready to give up on his musical dreams, when he is suddenly hit by a bus during a worldwide electrical blackout. When he awakes, he soon realizes he is the only person that remembers The Beatles. With their lyrics and melodies in his head, Jack tries to restart his career using the genius of The Beatles’ music. However, he soon comes to the realization that maybe fame isn’t everything that he dreamed it would be, and it comes with a price.
Himesh Patel plays the film’s protagonist. For his film debut, Patel delivers a nice performance, and his exceptional singing voice helps to carry the movie from start to finish. He succeeds in doing justice to many of The Beatles’ songs. His manager and longtime friend, Ellie, is played by Lily James, who is both charming and funny in her role. Kate McKinnon, Joel Fry, and Ed Sheeran round out the supporting cast, all adding nice comedic touches to the mix. Furthermore, the direction from Danny Boyle was a great element to the film, with many clever shots and whimsical sequences that you can’t help but smile at.
In a cinematic time filled with remakes, sequels, and adaptations, it feels as though audiences are not treated to much original content anymore. What made me so excited about “Yesterday” was that it seemed like a promising change of pace from all of the unoriginal productions that have recently come out. With an extremely creative premise and the music of The Beatles to support it, this film had the potential to make it the feel-good movie of the summer, and possibly the year. Sadly, the concept exceeded the actual result of the film itself. Although I didn’t dislike the movie, I left the theater feeling as though there was so much that could have been done with such a wonderfully creative premise.
My main critique with “Yesterday” was it never really got past the concept. What I mean by this is although the idea of a world without The Beatles in a 2-minute trailer was great, the actual execution in its 2-hour entirety was a bit empty. A movie cannot simply rely on its premise to carry the load of the plot; there needs to be substance to carry that story throughout the film’s running time, and that didn’t really happen here. Because of this, many parts of the movie felt forced. The added romantic-comedy element was obviously necessary to advance the plot, and this made it fairly charming at times. Unfortunately, this side of the story ended up feeling like added filler, as it lacked a real “feel-good” or emotional punch. What resulted was a movie with a premise a lot stronger than what we actually watched on screen.
Although it didn’t live up to expectations, this movie was not without its upsides. What “Yesterday” does succeed in doing is crafting an endearing love letter to The Beatles. Any fan of the band and their music will be sure to find silver linings, from jokes about their album covers to simply hearing their songs recreated. I have found myself humming “Hey Jude” for 3 days straight, and this movie is to blame (or rather, in this case, thank) for that.
All things considered, I do not regret seeing this movie. It had its fair share of sweet and funny moments, as well as a bunch of Beatles nostalgia that definitely made it worth the watch. Simply put, I just wish that this movie could’ve lived up to the potential that it had. “Yesterday” was more an appreciative nod to The Beatles than anything else, but still left so much to be done with a premise that could’ve made it something rather special. My final thoughts on “Yesterday” are that the concept of the movie was better than the actual film itself; but if you are a fan of The Beatles and just want to sit back and admire their music with a simple, yet heart-warming story as the backdrop for it all, then this movie will still be sure to leave you satisfied.
Cover Photo: IMDB