Yesterday…all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh I believe …in Yesterday.
Prophetic words for Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), the main character in director Danny Boyle’s newest film about a world where everyone, except for Jack, has forgotten who the Beatles were and had never heard any of their music.
As a Beatles fan, the idea is just horrible. Just the idea that the world would not be able to listen to “Hey Jude”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” or “Yellow Submarine” is a thought that would bother me to no end. That is, of course, what Jack is faced with. What would you do?
After a freak worldwide blackout, Jack is hit by a bus and ends up in the hospital. When he awakes, he is missing his two front teeth and the rest of the world has lost the memory of George, Paul, John and Ringo. Not a fair swap.
Jack, who is a failing musician, suddenly realizes that he has access to some of the greatest songs ever written and nobody would be the wiser so he begins recreating the songbook of the Beatles.
I’m torn by this movie. Most importantly, I love the music of the Beatles and it was great listening to these songs throughout the film. Himesh Patel does a great job performing these songs. Many times I hate it when I hear people doing the Beatles because…well, just because. I did not mind Patel’s versions of these songs. Obviously, that would have been a death knell for the movie had I not liked the songs.
However, there are just so many plot holes or things left open that, in retrospect, tear apart this reality. Other musicians are referenced, but how about all those musicians who had been inspired by the Beatles? When they were not there, what happened to them? This was just one thing that popped into my head while watching the movie.
There was another major question that comes along late in the third act that would constitute a spoiler so I will not mention it, but let’s just say that, after Jack visited this specific person, I really wondered what was going on.
Lily James played teacher and part time manager for Jack, Ellie and she was charming and lovely. They had a great deal of chemistry with one another, but the way their relationship worked through felt very odd and not natural. I did not like the development of that story arc. On the whole, I enjoyed both Patel and James’ performances, but I would have preferred a different resolution to the story.
One performance that I was not overly fond of, unfortunately, was Kate McKinnon who played Debra, an agent who is looking to cash in with Jack’s musical skills. The best description I have heard of this performance was from Collider Live host Kristian Harloff who stated that she was “in such a different film.” That was exactly the way to say it because she was so over-the-top that she pulled me out of the film every time.
There were some very funny jokes in the film though. There was a running joke about other items/people who the world had forgotten besides just the Beatles and that worked every time. Ed Sheeran has a cameo throughout the movie that really work as well. He has a great self-deprecating way about himself in the film and he embraces the jokes well.
Yesterday had several positives going for it, and it has its share of problems. When I wasn’t thinking too hard about it, I enjoyed the movie, but when I was thinking back, more holes and problems came up. I think the positives out weigh the negatives and, as I was walking out of the movie, I felt satisfied. That is certainly the long and winding road to a recommendation.