Director Danny Boyle has teamed up with Richard Curtis to celebrate the songbook of the greatest band in the world in their new rom-com come sci-fi-rock-com, Yesterday.
Jack Malik is a somewhat struggling singer-songwriter from an English seaside town in Suffolk. His dedicated fan, manager and childhood friend Ellie has always been by his side but it seems his dreams of hitting the big time are over That is… until….darkness hits the entire globe for 12 seconds and this results in Malik having a freak bus accident. When he wakes up everything seems the same except for one small detail – no one can remember The Beatles? No John, Paul, George and Ringo? No Fab Four? No mop tops? No Hey Jude? It’s madness.
After his songwriting slump Malik realises that he’s got an abundance of some of the greatest pop songs ever written right at his fingertips – but can he/ will he/ should he pass them off as his own?
Himesh Patel uses his natural funny bones and dry delivery to play the awestruck Malik armed with this new magical pop superpower and he’s very watchable and likeable. His vocals and musical renditions of The Fab Four’s classics are all well delivered from the small, shy, recoiling performances to the big brazen confident ones. His chemistry with love interest Ellie played by Lilly James is typical rom-com fare. She’s the perfect Curtis heartstring puller though there’s nothing particularly original in her character. Ed Sheeran provides just a bit more than a cameo as himself, and we get some good laughs out of it, but I don’t think he’s gonna be taking Tom Cruise’s roles anytime soon.
The supporting cast are strong too – another typical but well executed Curtis character is seen in the hapless Rocky played well by Joel Fry and Kate McKinnon as a hard-faced, straight-talking LA music manager is a good antidote to the nervous and polite bumbling brits.
The film is aware not to mess with The Beatles much loved back catalogue too much as although those in the film’s universe don’t remember them we most certainly do. The music is both stripped back and souped up for these new virgin ears with some changes to these masterpieces even suggested – much to Malik’s comedically expressed distaste. But, overall the film chooses to use the much-loved tunes to unite both audience and cast in a sometimes sickly sweet aura or nostalgia and Great Britishness. This, however, is to be expected I’d say from a Richard Curtis film.
Yesterday is a quirky, people pleasing, feel-good and cute film but doesn’t bring much more to the table than that. Go for some giggles and an inevitable sing-a-long.
Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar