Release Date: June 28, 2019
Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran
Director: Danny Boyle
Studio: Working Title Films, Decibel Films
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Spoilers: If you know the concept, there’s nothing to be spoiled!
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No one will be surprised when I say that you have to be a fan of The Beatles to love Yesterday. But luckily, you don’t have to be a Beatles fan to enjoy it.
I’ve been seeing a lot of sequels lately, so I was excited to see an original concept. Yesterday follows a struggling singer-songwriter, Jack (Himesh Patel). After everyone else forgets The Beatles ever existed, he’s the only one who remembers their songs. The movie follows Jack’s meteoric rise to super-stardom singing plagiarized Beatles hits.
Along the way, Jack loses touch with his heart-achingly besotted manager, played by the incomparable Lily James, and grows increasingly uneasy with passing off The Beatles’ work as his own.
The movie was paced well and the writing was witty. I most enjoyed the running gags about other iconic products that no longer exist.
Jack’s slow climb from obscurity to fame takes up a good portion of the action. It’s really funny to watch Patel’s creeping level of desperation when his parents keep interrupting the very first listen of Let It Be, or when his friend says his songs are no Fix You by Coldplay.
When Jack does finally get his big break, if anything, I had a slight issue with suspending my disbelief. There’s no way that a solo artist with an acoustic guitar could become as electrically famous singing Hey Jude in the era of synth-pop hits (Don’t @ me!).
Cultural tastes and production standards have changed, so these lyrics that were popular in the 60’s just didn’t resonate as anything that would realistically chart on today’s Top 40, let alone cause a modern Beatles frenzy. To quote the movie, “It’s not Coldplay, is it? It’s not Fix You.”
If you’re a Beatles fan, this movie was a nostalgia cake baked especially for you. If you’re not, you’ll still have a good time, but some of the references won’t make sense, and the sense of urgency won’t quite land. But you might just discover some cool covers of unfamiliar songs, and it just might convert you into a Beatles fan, too.