Movie Review: Yesterday

The Beatles will always be relevant. They have cemented their legacy in music forever, but now they are impacting the big screen also. Yesterday, isn’t centered on The Beatles, but it kinda is. Director Danny Boyle’s musically infused fantasy rom-com does a lot of good to entertain, even if it makes some puzzling story choices.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT:

Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a struggling musician. Raise your hand if you heard or seen that story before (everyone should be raising their hand now). Jack has little going for him, besides the undying support of his best friend/manager Ellie Appleton (Lily James). The night he decides to give up on his musical dreams, his life changes forever. A worldwide blackout occurs and poor Jack gets hit by a bus. Oh, the odds of all that happening.

When he regains consciousness, the world isn’t the same as it was for him before the accident. He finds himself in an alternate reality where the world hasn’t heard of The Beatles. Jack decides to go back into music and introduce the modern world to one of the greatest bands that nobody (in this alternate timeline) has ever heard of.

HOW DID THE ACTORS DO:

Let’s face it, Himesh Patel isn’t a household name. The English actor has 16 credits to his name and has starred in TV series and short films. He’s very much a “fresh face” to worldwide audiences. Even though Patel isn’t new to the industry, it seems like he’s someone we should have been exposed to at this point.

Patel is very likable in this role and he has a natural charm without having to show a ton of charisma. Some of the lines in the movie seem to take subliminal shots at his appearance, deeming his appearance unfit for that of a star. On the contrary, those are the same reasons why he’s interesting and relatable, making him a viable star.

James is supposed to be the supporting actor in this film, but she is such a vital part of the story that she shines every time she’s featured. The relationship between Jack and Ellie seems very sincere and caring. What makes it appealing is that it isn’t based on sex. It’s about genuine care they have for another and James relays that through her performance, by showing real vulnerability.

The biggest surprise was Ed Sheeran. He plays a fairly significant part in the movie. I was expecting a cameo, but he gets a lot more than that. It’s a legitimate supporting role for Sheeran. It wasn’t as much of the acting, as Sheeran plays himself, but he looked quite comfortable and natural on the screen. You wouldn’t have realized that he hasn’t acted before based on this role.

SCRIPT & STORY:

The script by Richard Curtis and Jack Barth is clever and ambitious, but it takes too many wild liberties to keep the concept feasible. The main part of the plot revolves around this alternate reality. If it’s Avengers, it’s a lot more understandable to buy into that concept, but it’s not a sci-fi movie. By playing with the alternate reality concept you immediately cast doubt over the legitimacy of the story. Sure, you’re still able to invest in it, but it’s not as genuine and realistic.

We never get answers as to how or why Jack ended up in this alternate reality? I get trying to suspend belief, but at least have some semi-factual reasons for it. Also, how and why did a worldwide blackout occur?

So The Beatles aren’t the only thing that this post-accident world hasn’t been exposed to, Jack finds out that no one has ever hear of Coke? Apparently Pepsi rules. At least the writers added some of these gags along the way to add more humor to the film, or not to make The Beatles feel like the only ones excluded from this world.

WAS IT ENTERTAINING:

This movie is plenty entertaining. The characters are likable and the performances are really good. I loved Kate McKinnon being cast as Jack’s manager. She’s hilarious and plays another wacky over-the-top character that adds a jolt of comedy.

Yesterday was funnier than I expected to be. There are several lighthearted silly moments that succeed. I appreciated the diversity in the characters and actors. There are a few touching moment, a couple of them later in the movie that warrant solid tearjerker considerations. Ultimately Boyle leaves us with a simple, but strong, message.

SHOULD YOU SEE IT:

If you’re cool with investing in the story and not bothered by the alternate timeline use, then this is a highly enjoyable movie. The musical numbers are satisfying and fun. The romance is sweet. It has enough romance, music and drama to entertain viewers who are fans of these specific genres. This movie surprised me on how much it had me invested in it.

Quietly, the movie makes you imagine what the legendary band would be like if they were a solo act, or if they never existed. Would the songs still be hits if it was just one of them performing? Would the world be any different without their music? These are some of the intriguing questions the movie makes you ponder.

You don’t have to be a fan of The Beatles to enjoy it. I wasn’t, yet had a good time and grew my appreciation for the band though the movie. Fans of the band should have a blast with the references and all the hit songs being performed. The Beatles serve as a vessel for Jack’s character to discover life’s gems. Yesterday is likely better than any movie out now that you’re considering seeing today (not a pun, seriously). Don’t wait another day to see it, you should have gone out to the movies yesterday (pun).

GENRE: Comedy, Fantasy, Music

RATING: PG-13

RUNTIME: 1 hr 56 min

RELEASE DATE: June 28, 2019

‘YESTERDAY’ Score: 84%

Written by Jim Alexander

Jim Alexander hails from Chicago where he started his journalism career as a film critic and founder of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle (CIFCC). He's a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic. Jim founded Reel Talker as a platform to share his love of movies and entertainment. Jim's favorite part of being a journalist is getting to meet and interview actors, filmmakers and entertainers. Jim is a host and on-camera personality for AfterBuzz TV. Aside from his work with Reel Talker, he's the site owner of the Bachelor Universe website, where he recaps and talks about all this ABC's 'The Bachelor'. He also runs the Reel Talker Podcast that can be found on iTunes. In his free time he enjoys attending sports events and playing in recreational leagues. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

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