By: Movie Snurb (Three Beers) –
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a struggling musician who is trying to make it as a singer/songwriter while working at a big shopping center. He’s not the greatest songwriter but he is a good singer and a decent guitar player. He has a manager Ellie (Lily James) who has supported him through thick and thin and believes he could be something great. His friends don’t share the same sentiment, but they cheer him on nonetheless. One night after Jack’s last gig he decides to hang up his guitar and as he is riding his bike home all of the lights all over the world go out and he is hit by a bus. When he awakes in the hospital he discovers that the power outage was some kind of cosmic force changing the world. The Beatles no longer exist, Coca-Cola no longer exists, cigarettes, and Harry Potter and probably many other things also don’t. So, Jack is posed with a difficult question: Does he record all of The Beatles songs and pass them off as his own?
I loved the writing in this film and the artistic signature that Danny Boyle put on this film. There are a lot of jokes that do land really well especially for Beatles fans. I loved the camera angles in some of the scenes that were reminiscent of “A Hard Day’s Night” with screaming fans running after John, Paul, George, and Ringo. I also think the “big reveal” works well into the story, as long as you’re going along for the journey. It’s a big story swing but I appreciate the originality of the story, and I also appreciate the diverse casting. The was no reason to cast an Indian man in the lead role, it usually only happens when their race pertains to the story. But Himesh gets to play a role that 20 years ago would’ve gone to a white guy. It’s not a big deal but it’s pretty cool.
The performances are very solid in this film as well. Himesh is great as a man having to deal with everyone telling him he’s great but him knowing the real truth. It’s a great struggle many artists go through, thinking that one day everyone is going to realize they are a fraud and they don’t know what they’re doing. I think that is why so many talented people don’t go anywhere because those thoughts bury their work ethic. A lot of emotions were going through Jack’s mind and Himesh conveyed them all through his facial expressions. I really liked Lily James as well. Her character of Ellie could’ve been a paint-by-numbers love interest, but she brings depth to the character. Also, Kate McKinnon is hilarious as a talent agent who brings him to L.A.
Despite a lot of the great writing and acting I feel that the pacing begins to drag towards the end of the film. I do like a lot of the scenes at the end but it feels like it takes its time wrapping up the story, especially when everyone kind of knows where the film is headed. I wouldn’t say the entire film was predictable, but when the film begins to drag is around the last 30 minutes when by then you know how the movie is going to play out. With the predictability also comes a side of cheese. The last 30 minutes are filled with a ton of cheese.
This is a small thing, but with other things not existing in this new reality and Coke being one of the things that disappeared, it felt like a product placement for Pepsi. The only reason it felt like that was Coke was the only product that kept coming back in jokes and of course there was a shot with a Pepsi vending machine in the background. In a film about things not existing these jokes felt forced because Pepsi payed for the movie. (I could be totally wrong but that is how it came across.)
Yeah, Yesterday is cheesy and the premise is out there by a mile, but if you submit yourself to the journey instead of asking a ton of questions you’ll enjoy the ride. Plus, you can’t really go wrong with The Beatles music.
Yesterday (2019) Drinking Game
Do a Shot: every time Jack finds out something doesn’t exist.
Do a Shot: every time someone asks Jack to write a song on the spot.
Take a Drink: Jack and Ellie have a moment.
Take a Drink: every time a new Beatles song is played.