Yesterday isn’t just a movie about the world’s greatest band – it’s a love story. And in this season of musical films (a la A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody from 2018 and now Rocket Man and soon to be released Blinded by the Light), Yesterday, a film directed by Danny Boyle, Best Director for 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, is something you need to see today.
Imagine there are no Beatles; it’s (not) easy if you try. Yesterday portrays a world with no Beatles, no Coke, no cigarettes. That’s the premise of the film. These things ceased to exist after a mysterious global blackout occurs and struggling singer-songwriter Jack Malik is hit by a bus, loses two teeth and realizes the world has never even heard of John, Paul, George and Ringo.
The lead is played by an endearing Himesh Patel, a British actor unknown to most American audiences yet he outshines the real stars who get top billing including “bloody Ed Sheeran” as he is referred to and James Corden. Kate McKinnon is an impressive bossy and condescending agent to Malik, a man searching for stardom and when he finds it is expresses both humility and modesty which is atypical in this Kardashian generation.
And he does it by performing all of the Beatles’ hits and taking credit for the writing. What is missing in the film are the melodious harmonies of the dynamic duo of Lennon and McCartney, but it sure is nice to hear these songs without having to subscribe to satellite radio to do so.
The real theme though might not be the plagiarization of the great ones but rather the pursuit of love in a PG format (it received a PG-13 rating, and I do not know why) of Malik with his friend from middle school and now roadie manager Ellie played by the beautiful Lily James of Mamma Mia 2 and PBS’ “Downton Abbey” (she was Lady Rose).
The challenge with Malik’s copying every single note and lyric is that he can’t remember all the lyrics and since the band never existed in this alternate universe, he tries to Google and only finds information on, well, beetles.
His nightmares consist of McCartney and Starr calling him out, but I can tell you the most searched item on the internet over the weekend had to be, “Who plays John Lennon in the movie Yesterday?” He was not credited in the end, but his resemblance with his features and circle frame glasses is uncanny. According to www.screenrant.com, it was someone named “Robert Carlyle plays John Lennon.”
There are laughs in this film, and for me, a living, breathing Beatles’ FANatic, lots of tears. Hearing the musical jukebox of their hits brought back so many memories and was the real joy of the film.
Go see the film and why “all you need is love.” Tell me which song gave you earworm where you sang it for an hour after you saw it.
And remember, “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on. Bra. La la, how the life goes on.”
Image courtesy of Universal Pictures