Friday Film Review - "Yesterday"

Jul 5, 2019

Imagine there's no--Fab Four. That's the premise of a new film that blends classic rock and the Twighlight Zone.

Have you noticed a trend in rock-genre movies lately? Starting with the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody”, followed by the Elton John extravaganza – “Rocketman”, and now “Yesterday” – a romantic comedy/fantasy based on the Beatles songbook.

Acclaimed British Director Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting”/“Slumdog Millionaire”) brings to life the story of Jack Malick – a struggling singer-songwriter from a small, seaside English village. Malick (played by Himesh Patel of the BBC's Eastenders) balances his job in a warehouse store with his of dream rock stardom, all while dutifully supported by his childhood friend turned manager Ellie (played by Lily James, most recently seen in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”).

Unable to make it past small pub gigs and birthday parties, Malick is about to hang up his guitar for good when one night the entire world blacks out for a few seconds. When the lights come back on, Malick has been hit by a bus while riding his bike, which also smashes his guitar to pieces.

Aside from a few bruises and missing teeth, Malick recovers quickly. Ellie and friends pitch in for a new guitar for Malick, who thanks all with a magical rendition of the Beatles classic Yesterday. All are blown away, especially since they’ve never heard the song before, or even the Beatles for that matter.

Perplexed, Malick runs home to Google “The Beatles”, and nothing but the insect shows up in the search results. He realizes he awoke to a world where The Beatles never existed. He then hastily writes down the music and lyrics to every Beatles song he can recall and sets out to perform his new set in a local club. He catches the attention of a music producer, and eventually British pop star Ed Sheeran (playing himself), who invites Malick to join him on tour as his opening act.

Now solidly in the spotlight, Malick upgrades to a savvy new manager, Deb (played hilariously by Kate McKinnon). With the help of Deb and a massive LA-based marketing team, Malick’s stardom is on a meteoric rise. Having enough recycled Beatles material to release a much-anticipated double debut album, Malick begins to feel remorse for his secret stash of Beatle’s hits, while also questioning the authenticity of his new versus tried and true relationships.

Boyle coaches strong and believable performances from his cast and adds some intrigue with three characters who appear later in the story and may actually have some connection to the Beatles. And the extended cameo by Sheeran is a big plus. Beatles fans will be happy with the soundtrack as all the classics are covered well by Malick.

Yesterday is rated PG-13 (for suggestive content and language), runs 112 minutes. In this latest string of rock comedy/dramas, “Yesterday” doesn’t quite live up to the ranks of “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Rocketman”, but it still makes for a fun night at the movies.