“I’ve been waiting half my life for you to wake up and love me, but I’m a teacher and you are the world’s greatest singer songwriter.”
Yesterday tells the story of Jack Malik, a young man who wants to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician. But when a power surge causes the world to go dark, Jack is hit by a bus and transported to a world that has never heard of The Beatles. Now Jack has The Beatles music library at the tip of his fingers, soon taking credit for all the songs and skyrocketing to superstardom. But as Jack succeeds with his new songs, his disgust for the music industry, the pressure of this huge secret, and Ellie’s unrequited love, soon become too much for Jack. The expectations for Yesterday were at an incredible high, but after watching this Beatles-centered film, Yesterday lacks substance in almost every area.
A film centered around Beatles music has been done before with Julie Taymor’s, Across the Universe. Across the Universe placed the audience right in the middle of the time period when these Beatles songs were actually written, creating an emphasized look at what plagued the world so many years ago. As so many of us are Beatles fans, it would be tough not to appreciate a film revolving around the library of one of the most beloved bands of all time. The music of Yesterday will have you singing and tapping your foot to its tunes well after you’ve left the theater. Newcomer Himesh Patel, who plays Jack, performs each song with so much heart and soul. Not only can you hear the beauty within each song, but you can hear his passion. I really enjoyed his musicianship throughout the film, however, the songs in the film are loosely thrown around and don’t add anything to the film’s storyline. As we’ve seen in different films based on a band’s music, those films incorporate the famous songs to go hand and hand with what the characters in the film are feeling. Though there are a few scenes (playing Back in the U.S.S.R when Jack is in Moscow) that actively go along with the film’s story, it never really adds much. To be honest, The Beatles’ music was never a crucial thread of the film’s story. So much so, I would go as far to say that the music could have easily been changed to almost any other band.
I have a lot of concerns about the way this film chose to go. First, and foremost, being with the bland and confusing story. The blandness comes from the romance that overshadows the music. The romantic relationship between Jack and Ellie, though nicely acted by Patel and Lily James, is tedious to say the least. Yesterday’s constant romantic back and forth, between the two characters, has been done time and time again. But perhaps my biggest concern is the whole “miracle” that happens overnight. They don’t really explain this whole phenomenon, so by the end it just seems messy. Not to mention, the ending is a little too, “we’re so happy now” as everyone smiles towards the camera, thus creating a black hole of cheesiness that makes your eyes roll.
Yesterday had an interesting premise of what to do if you had all this knowledge at your fingertips. Would you take advantage and claim it as your own? But the execution of this film, helmed by Oscar winning director Danny Boyle, just didn’t live up to all its hype. I truly loved the acting by all involved. If anything, see it for James and Patel, who are just so fun to watch. But in the end, nothing could save the film’s confusing and dull story. All in all, Yesterday disappoints and becomes just another basic romantic movie.
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Starring: Himesh Patel and Lily James