Simon Dillon reviews this entertaining, feel good watch
From the writer of Love Actually and the director of Slumdog Millionaire is a pretty solid commercial proposition. As a result, in Yesterday we have the best directed Richard Curtis film ever made, with Danny Boyle bringing his trademark verve and energy to every frame of this high concept, romantic, and wise fable. Is it going to change the course of cinema? No, but it's a really entertaining, feel-good watch.
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) plays a struggling singer/songwriter, who is about to give up trying to find success, despite constant encouragement from his close friend/superfan/manager Ellie (Lily James), who has secretly fancied him since their schooldays. However, when a freak power cut results in Jack being hit by a bus and falling unconscious, he then wakes up in a parallel universe where the Beatles never existed, and only he remembers them. Deciding to try and pass of all their songs as his own, Jack then becomes an international megastar, but will success come at the cost of a romantic life with Ellie?
Any really close examination of the premise makes it fall apart in seconds. Boyle and Curtis play lip service to the idea that removing the Beatles's music from the world would create knock-on effect (there is no Oasis in this universe either), but surely deleting such a hugely influential group would have more of an impact, as the rest of pop history seems pretty much intact.
Having said that, the real focus here is not It's a Wonderful Life style parallel universe knock-on effect, but on the sweet and touching central relationship between Jack and Ellie. Performances are winning, and there are many, many laughs too. One satirical scene, involving a truly ludicrous marketing meeting, is both hilarious and terrifyingly awful. Also, a game Ed Sheeran turns up as himself, with many superb gags made at his expense.
Needless to say the music is fabulous, with classic hits deployed to belting effect, often making a clever comment on the narrative (Help! for instance). One scene where Jack plays Let it Be for the "first" time and is constantly interrupted is very amusing, and there's an even funnier gag involving Hey Jude.
The film takes at least two unexpected turns, and I felt a little uneasy about one of these (you'll know which bit I mean when you watch it). Having said that, Yesterday is, for the most part, a straightforward crowd-pleaser, with a simple but admirable message about telling the truth to those you love, alongside a perils of fame, be-careful-what-you-wish-for type moral. None of that is particularly deep or profound, but in a film like this, it doesn't need to be. Yesterday is, ultimately, a very satisfying escapist delight.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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