In the Yesterday, one line really sticks out: “The world without The Beatles would be a lot more worse.”
The Beatles are responsible for the musical British Invasion of the United States and have had a major influence in popular culture. Many bands, artists, and songs would not be possible had it not been for this iconic band. From heavy metal to grunge, country, hip-hop, and everything in between, it would be difficult to imagine a world without their music. This is especially true given how many lives have been touched by their songs. With that, Yesterday, a film directed by Danny Boyle, also dares to provide an example of what the world would look like without The Beatles while still showing their impact.
Yesterday follows Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), a struggling musician who has given up on his dream to be famous. His manager and best friend Ellie (Lily James) tries to give him hope but he just doesn’t want to continue playing music. One night, Jack is hit by a bus after a worldwide power outage and wakes up as the only person who remembers The Beatles. In light of this, he comes up with a plan to use their songs to achieve the fame that he had struggled to obtain for many years. However, he quickly learns that fame isn’t as great as he thought it would be.
Before seeing the trailer for the film, I had never seen Himesh Patel. But in Yesterday, Patel has a natural charisma to go along with his phenomenal singing voice. A lot of this charisma comes when he performs songs by The Beatles later on in the film. During his rendition of “Back in the U.S.S.R.”, he not only made the audience on screen sing along but some of the audience in my screening of Yesterday sang along as well. He fully took on that rockstar persona when he was on stage and it made me feel like I was at a live show.
The character of Ellie is the opposite of Jack. She’s more reserved but willing to do anything to see Jack reach that level of success in music that he deeply desires. But she also struggles with telling Jack how she really feels about him. This only becomes more difficult once his career fully takes off. Lily James’ character is much more grounded, which serves as a perfect counterpart to Jack. Even though her character doesn’t develop until near the end of the film, she’s still able to have shining moments that define her character. Specifically when she realizes that being a musician matters more to Jack than being with her when he leaves for his first tour.
Yesterday does an incredible job at portraying the strength ofJack and Ellie’s friendship and partnership. Jack mentions the story of how he and Ellie met during high school when Jack sang a cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall.” It’s a sweet yet cliche scene that establishes why they became so close. However, their partnership seems to be more in Jack’s favor, especially once Ellie reveals to him she has feelings for him. This is pointed out during their lunch meeting towards the end of the film when she mentions that she should have never really driven him everywhere in hopes that he would somehow fall for her. This took me out of the film since it was included a little too late, but it points out how one-sided this partnership is.
Given that the film revolves around The Beatles, it would be a travesty to not talk about the music that was included in the film. All of the songs included in the movie are instant classics that could easily be found in any playlist of a Beatles fan. I couldn’t help but silently hum to the tune of the songs throughout the entire film. However, all the songs that Patel sang felt like cover songs. Yes, they’re meant to be covers, but there was no real originality. It felt like the sound was just being mimicked. Had Patel found a way to truly make those songs different, they would’ve made a bigger impact on the film as a whole.
One of my personal favorite elements in the film was the use of historical places. As a way to remember the lyrics, there are several scenes where Jack goes off to different places that inspired several Beatles songs. Some of these places include Penny Lane, Abbey Road, and the Strawberry Field Salvation Army Children’s Home. These are neat easter eggs for big fans of the band to recognize. They also serve as history for viewers who may not really know much about where these songs came from.
As seen from the trailer, Ed Sheeran does, in fact, have a role in the film. I consider myself a fan of his music and didn’t really mind when he made a cameo appearance during the season seven premiere of Game of Thrones. However, I didn’t expect him to have a bigger part than just a cameo in the film. It would’ve been different had his character been there for comedic relief, but he was depicted as the person who gave Jack his big break. It was also a bit difficult at times to hear what he was saying, which immediately pulled me out of any scene he was in. The film could have worked more on the plot and characters had it not focused on giving Sheeran a bigger role.
I really wanted to like this film, especially since it had such an interesting premise. I’m a big fan of The Beatles and could never imagine what my life would be like without their music. The film at times felt like it had no real plot and any other characters besides Jack were never fully developed. The songs which Jack sang had no real originality, making it seem like it would’ve been better had the original covers of the songs been used. It was an enjoyable film that focused on the importance of music, but in the end, it was just another forgettable summer film.
Yesterday will be hitting theaters on June 28th.
It was an enjoyable film that focused on the importance of music, but in the end, it was just another forgettable summer film.