"Yesterday" Review: Dope Premise Meets A Good Effort
If you woke up and no one remembered The Beatles, what would you do? That’s what director Danny Boyle’s (Slumdog Millionaire) new film analyzes. If you’re a fan of The Beatles, this is likely a must see; if you’re a casual listener, it may not have you clapping along.
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) wakes up after a car accident. Apparently the world experienced a power outage for twelve seconds, during which he was hit by a bus, and it erased certain things from existence. The Beatles music and everything that goes with it is no longer in the cultural lexicon. As a struggling musician, Jack decides to use this to his advantage by playing and writing down every Beatles song he can remember.
As the world begins to hear his tunes, a star is born. The newfound fame makes his relationship with former manager and best friend, Ellie (Lily James), a bit strained. The train is moving faster than Jack thought it would and it causes him to analyze not only his relationships but himself as well.
Writer Richard Curtis pens a film that has lots of humor and charm. As an audience member, the thought of a world that hasn’t been changed by The Beatles is hard to find not funny. With Ed Sheeran showing up at Jack’s door to bring him on tour with him, there’s a lot of irony and comical gags in the superstar going up against The Beatles music, unbeknownst to him. However, the film’s premise may also be its kryptonite. More of the story focuses on the music than the bigger story it’s trying to tell, which is lying can catch up to you so be your authentic self.
Jack is forced to face his actions, knowing that his songwriting skills aren’t as great as the iconic band’s. It’s a “what would you do?” hypothetical dilemma that we could ask ourselves. It’s in the space of the decision to live a lie for positive reasons like making money to feed your family, or wanting to finally be seen and heard in the world, that the film tries to address but doesn’t quite knock out of the park. If you’re looking to revisit The Beatles music and have a few laughs, this movie is for you. If you’re not knowledgeable of the band’s music past their top hits like I am, this may be a good pick on Netflix later. When you remove the music, the story is like Patel’s character, meandering, unsure of its direction, but loveably charming.