Film Review: Yesterday

With over 800 million album sales and dozens of iconic songs in their discography, The Beatles are widely considered to be the greatest band of all time – but what if one day, we all forgot they ever existed?

Down-on-his-luck singer Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is about to give up on his music career, when the world faces a giant black-out and he’s hit by a bus. Once he wakes up, he discovers that nobody but him can remember The Beatles or any of their songs, and sees it as an opportunity to become the best songwriter the world has ever seen.

Yesterday doesn’t attempt to offer a clever explanation for why John, Paul, George and Ringo disappeared from our minds – the film simply explores ‘what if’, and uses it as a plot device to explore Jack’s character. The first act is exactly what you’d expect, with the protagonist frantically scribbling down the lyrics he can remember while his manager and best friend Ellie (Lily James) helps his ‘genius work’ reach as many people as possible. 

Things get a bit more complicated and less predictable as the plot progresses, as Jack’s fame starts to drive a wedge between him and Ellie, and the possibility of someone catching him out seems to grow. Jack is a likeable, yet flawed character, keeping the audience invested in his story and his relationships with other characters.

Many of the story beats aren’t particularly original, but are still arranged in such a way that makes them enjoyable and moving. There’s one particularly touching moment towards the end that was left as a complete surprise, with Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle working his magic to pull at the heartstrings once again.

There are also lots of laughs to be had, such as finding out what other things have vanished from the world, and a suggestion from Ed Sheeran (the man himself) that Jack changes ‘Hey Jude’ to ‘Hey Dude’. Several characters, such as Jack’s friend Rocky (Joel Fry) and his parents (Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Syal), are played by actors from a comedy background, helping Richard Curtis’ screenplay to reach its full potential.

Of course, Yesterday’s soundtrack features The Beatles’ biggest hits covered by Himesh Patel. While his voice isn’t necessarily one of the stand-out parts of the film, the former Eastenders actor does a great rendition of these tunes and will have you tapping along to your favourites. There are also a few songs from Ed Sheeran – they could be new ones, but they sound so similar to his previous work that it’s hard to tell.

Yesterday takes an interesting premise and turns it into a fantastic film full of humour and heart. While a lot of it feels quite familiar, the cast and crew turn it into its own charming and memorable story that puts it among the top movies to check out this year.

By Jamie Morris

Feature image credit: Universal Pictures

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