I read about the concept for the plot of Yesterday, before it was attached to a director, and knew it was going to be a movie I was going to love.
What would you do if you woke up being the only person in the world that remembered The Beatles existed? That is the question faced by Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) as he realises the world he’s regained consciousness in, is not the same world he knew (pre-being hit by a bus). As you can imagine, he decides to claim their music as his own and quickly rises to fame and fortune in a world that is stunned with his miraculous ability to write mind-blowingly amazing songs- seemingly effortlessly.
You can tell the team behind this had a field day getting to sneak in all sorts of references and even poke fun at certain albums and songs. All clearly done tastefully and out of great love and respect for the band. Himesh Patel, in particular, does an amazing job of performing all the classics and proving that they really are timeless. It’s actually easy to sit through the movie and not really grasp what a spectacular job he does in Yesterday. He plays his down-trodden musician character to perfection and transitions from under-stated to rock-star seamlessly. Championed by the slightly too perfect (isn’t she always), Lily James, playing his childhood bestie-turned-manager, Ellie. Lily does give a solid performance and is very likable (of course), however, there is a slightly sickening quality to her ‘hopelessly in love’ vibe (strong on the hopeless), which was a tad difficult to stomach on a couple of occasions.
Ed Shereen was the real MVP for me. My goodness. I might be in love. I don’t want to spoil anything for you. He’s just perfect in this, as himself. Kate McKinnon was another major highlight. Not delivering anything particularly new for her, but just being her quirky, affronting, lovable self in a new role and ending up one of the best parts of the film (all in a days work aye Kate?).
The reality is that Yesterday would be ‘just another chick-flick’ (not that I still wouldn’t love it) without the music of The Beatles. It makes the impact their music had on the world, tangible for a new generation. We all wanna change the world and Yesterday reminds us (and informs those who weren’t aware) that The Beatles did just that. I think that’s why I found myself holding back tears throughout most of the movie. Even though the film (probably unintentionally) trivializes some of the songs’ depths, purely by packing so many in, the music speaks for itself and you will leave that cinema needing to dust off your old records or download some new tracks and get familiar with their original creators. As my Step-Mum put it as we left the preview screening: “I forgot how much I loved The Beatles”.
The way the plot, in general, unfolds will have the cynical critic-types sniggering in their seats and scoffing at various tropes, cliches and the nonsensicalness of it all. I recommend leaving them at home, grabbing your fun-loving friends and preparing for a damn good time. I’ll just say it. I had SO MUCH FUN (it’s a fool who plays it cool)! If you love The Beatles and you love Ed Sheeran, then there’s no way you won’t believe in (and love) Yesterday.