I was one of those nerds questioning the implication of this film.
Would this modern world still attach itself to the music of The Beatles, should they suddenly have stopped existing?
A question asked by master RomCom-smith Richard Curtis, and brought to life by Danny Boyle, Yesterday hopes to answer this in classic Curtis-structure with Boyle’s visual flair.
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a struggling singer-songwriter in an English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie (Lily James).
After a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed. Performing songs by the greatest band in history to a world that has never heard them, Jack becomes on overnight sensation with a little help from his agent.
Honestly, I still find it hard to answer!
So ingrained in our culture is the music of the Beatles, that trying to disassociate this idea that their music has NEVER existed means you can never FEEL how this new world feels.
On the one-hand, I can FEEL the idea of their music stunning this brave new world, especially when you find yourself bopping along to LITERALLY every track presented. The re-arrangement of said music also gives it a freshness which fits this day and age, but I just don’t know.
Anyway, it’s not so much about the music, as it is about what the music can mean to people, what celebrity is, and about one hundred different love story tropes; Because if you know Curtis‘s work, that’s what it always comes back to, and is something The Beatles work epitomized:
Himesh Patel is exemplary as the down ‘n out Jack; So engulfed in his need for recognition of craft and creativity that he’s a flux of “YES I CAN” and “NO I CAN’T, I’M DONE” which he delivers wonderfully. Lily James is there to pick him up, ’cause that’s what we need to start us on the path of breaking our hearts (or mending them), and she is stunning with her joviality as his manager/best friend, El.
Ed Sheeran is literally Ed Sheeran, and leaves himself as fodder for a tonne of great jokes and moments because a lot of people out there probably needed that.
The wombo-combo of Boyle‘s eye for film meeting Curtis’s beloved storytelling is…honestly, who even thought to do that? ‘Cause it’s just f*cking great. Some of the transitions that occur are magic, and as tropey as Curtis’s stuff can be, it crawls under your skin and that’s why Love Actually still resonates to this day.
With some not-so-twisty twisty’s, Yesterday is ultimately a celebration of life and love as told by The Beatles; An up-beat love story that threatens to block your arteries with cheese which is quickly shaken loose by pop classics and original numbers (including from Sheeran).
And I think if yesterday was today, I wouldn’t be mad at getting to watch Yesterday again.
A reflective take on Beatlesmania, and what their music means to our time, Yesterday is a sweet love story which charms us with its catalog of music and fantastic cast.
Definitely best watched with someone to hold your hand.