If you're a fan of Beatles music at all, the movie “Yesterday”
is just plain fun.
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a struggling
singer/songwriter who plays whatever gigs he can, and has for the last 10
years. He quit his job as a
teacher in order to concentrate on his music, but well, his part-time job
stocking shelves is hardly a career. At
least he still has his manager, Ellie (Lily James), who did keep her job
as a teacher, but she's always encouraging him and faithfully attends all
his one-man shows, even when she has to drop him off late to ride his
bicycle home (he still lives with his parents).
Then one night a very strange thing happens----all the lights in
the world go out at once. For
12 seconds. It's a phenomenon
no one can explain. It also
causes Jack to get knocked off his bike, and wind up in the hospital with
two front teeth missing and a huge headache.
But something else happened during those 12 seconds---the
collective cultural memory of the Beatles is wiped out.
No one has ever heard of them, and no one knows any of their songs.
Jack is flabbergasted. He
believes strongly that the Beatles music deserves to be heard, and so he
begins playing it in public, and the positive reception is immediate.
Jack is torn, because he's always wanted to make it as a musician,
but he never envisioned this. He
continues to crank out the Beatles songs, and the public continues to
respond. Even a “real
life” famous singer/songwriter, Ed Sheeran, touts Jack Malik as a
musical genius. Jack Malik
immediately goes on tour and becomes famous, but it's bittersweet.
Not only does he know he's a fraud, he also is leaving behind
Ellie, and the more he's away from her, the more he misses her.
Director Danny Boyle plays the tensions well.
Jack and Ellie never quite seem to find the right words, or the
right occasion, to express how they feel about each other.
Jack is delighted to be on stage, singing to adoring audiences,
even though he knows he's falsely implying authorship.
He tells himself that it's important that the world knows the
music, and he has to be the messenger.
He even insists on a pilgrimage to Liverpool, checking out Penny
Lane, and identifying Eleanor Rigby's gravestone.
To keep it all in a lighthearted vein, there are various other
random things that Jack discovers are also “lost” in those 12
seconds----like Coca-Cola. And
Harry Potter. And cigarettes.
This bit of playfulness opens up a whole avenue of post-viewing
conversation: “What would it
be like if the world had never heard of.....?”
Himesh Patel is musically talented enough to deliver Beatles songs
credibly. It's happy music,
and it's a pleasure to hear it done well, even in snippets and clips.
Sure, the premise is whimsical, but it's all in fun, even the
shading with the more serious moments.
If you're a fan of the music of The Beatles, you'll enjoy the movie